Family Stories

Family Recipes: Cooking Like My Grandmother – Lemon, Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Chicken

Cooking Like My Grandmother – Lemon, Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Chicken

How many of you remember a favorite dish from your grandmother or aunt or other relative?  My grandmother, Mary Alice Montgomery Carrico, made the VERY BEST chicken and dressing – cooked in a large cast iron skillet.  Grandmother’s chicken was always perfect – it was wonderfully brown, yet so very tender.  Sadly, I do not know exactly how she prepared and cooked her chicken.  The last time I enjoyed her cooking was about 45 years ago – but I remember exactly how it tasted, how tender it was and that it just melted in my mouth!  I remember in the afternoon of that lovely day, going back to the stove, raising the cover on the skillet and sneaking another bite or two!  Grandmother baked her dressing in the skillet beside the bird – and she always added raisins!  Just too good!

At the time I knew her grandmother had an electric stove, but when my mom was young they had a wood stove.  My dad’s mother, Nannie Bell Coulter Hill, had nothing but a wood stove – and I remember it well.  At my young age I was fascinated with it, watching her move things around the top of the stove for just the right heat, adding wood to make it hotter, and popping homemade biscuits in the oven that always came out perfectly!  Now I wonder how she did it!  How did she know the temperature was right to put that cake in?  How did she know how long to leave it in?  Experience I suppose, because everything she cooked was heavenly.  When my parents were dating, they worked at the same factory.  My grandmother would pack fried chicken for my dad’s lunch – and add a few chicken wings for my mother since they were her favorite!

My chicken and dressing is similar to Grandmother Carrico’s – but with my own twist!  I do believe this time it came closer to the desired succulent tenderness that I have been seeking!  I loosened the skin at the top and bottom of both sides of the breast – very carefully!  Making a paste of melted butter, chopped rosemary, lemon zest, chopped garlic and just a little white wine, I first basted under the skin, then the entire chicken.  When prepared the chicken went in my cast iron skillet – that weighs enough on its own, much less when something is added!  Raisins were in my dressing, too!  Some brussel sprouts roasted with olive oil and balsamic vinegar completed the meal! 

Lemon, Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Chicken

  • 1 small chicken, about 3 pounds
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly chopped rosemary
  • zest of one lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • salt
  • pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place chicken on an open roasting pan.  Gently loosen skin at top and bottom of both sides of the breast.  Insert lemon wedges and rosemary sprigs into the cavity of the chicken.  Tie legs together with cooking twine.  In a small bowl mix melted butter, rosemary, lemon zest, chopped garlic, white wine, salt and pepper to make a thick paste.  Baste underneath the skin on the breasts of the chicken, then baste entire chicken.  Roast chicken for about an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half.  Baste again about every 30 minutes.  Using an instant meat thermometer chicken will read 180 degrees and will be nicely browned when done.  Enjoy!

4 replies »

  1. Yummy recipe that I will have to try! We had wood heat when we lived in the mountains here and our power when out on Thanksgiving of all days. I put the turkey in the roasting pan, placed it on top of the wood heater, and made an oven by wrapping aluminum foil around the entire wood heater and roasting pan. It was one of the best Thanksgiving turkey’s we ever had. The power remained out for 3 more days and I continued to cook everything on our wood heater.

  2. I too remember a Granny’s cooking,and the love in it all…. So welcoming ,such a treasured gift…

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