It’s always good to have a go-to chicken recipe, something that can be prepped quickly and shoved into the oven, something that will cook while you sit and unwind with a glass of wine, possibly watching old episodes of Sherlock or Doctor Who. Possibly. Insert geek love of your choice and swirl, sniff, and sip that lovely liquid while you immerse yourself in someone else’s imagination.
As far as the wine goes, you can’t go wrong with a glass of anything Navarro Vineyards and Winery has to offer. It was the very first wine club I ever belonged to, and I will continue to belong until the end of time or they retire, whichever comes first — hopefully, the end of time. Anderson Valley, one of my favorite places in the entire world, one of the places that truly feels like home, is the location of their vineyards. The region grows outstanding Alsace wines, and it’s beautiful, besides. (We belong to three other wine clubs whose homes are in the Anderson Valley. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll see an image of the other wines at some point or another.) The Riesling I paired with the chicken is a dry style and is perfect with the lemon and sage I used to flavor the dish, but it’s wonderful enough to drink alone, staring at Benedict Cumberbatch’s cheekbones or what have you.
Lemon Sage Chicken
1 whole, organic chicken
2 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon butter
a pinch or two of red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place chicken on a cooking rack set into a casserole dish.
Mix the seasonings and butter together. Roll the lemon on the counter, using your hand and a little bit of pressure, until it feels slightly squishy. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice inside the chicken cavity. Rub some of the butter mixture inside the cavity. Carefully loosen the skin on the outside of the chicken, using your fingers to create pockets around the breast and thighs, then rub the rest of the butter mixture under the skin. Rub the outside of the chicken, ridding your fingers of any leftover butter mixture.
Insert the two halves of lemon inside the cavity. Cut onion into quarters and try to fit as much of it in the cavity as possible. Scatter any remaining onion pieces around the chicken, inside the dish.
Cook, breast side down, for an hour and 45 minutes. Flip the bird over and cook another 45 minutes.
Remove from oven and flip chicken back over, breast side down, and let rest for 15 minutes. Carve and serve.