Sunday Chicken Roast

Lemon Herb Chicken RoastI almost died of heart attack last Sunday.

I don’t know why chickens in Asia are giving me such a hard life.  All I asked for was a “well-cleaned-whole chicken” ready to be adorned, but instead, my chicken opened up with a surprise. A surprise that I really, really don’t like…

I wanted a nice Sunday dinner with my family after church last week. I planned to make my Sunday meal, the lemon & herb roasted chicken. Everything was ready to go. All I needed to do was to get the chicken ready to roast. Sometimes.., life brings you unexpected surprises.

Here is Holly’s chicken trauma, part II; the Malaysian chicken.


So I bought this so called the “clean chicken”, grass-fed and free-range organic. Everything looked normal and well groomed from what I saw on the package. Then I opened…


Oh, my Lord!

I literally dropped my scissor that I used to open the package when I discovered these.

“What in the world are these?”  I had to take a deep breath, a real deep breath…, with one hand holding on my chest to make sure my heart is still there.

When I lived in hong Kong a few years ago, I once bought a whole chicken. It came with a head (but no feet), eyes half-opened. I never bought the whole chicken again in Hong Kong ever since then.  I developed a chicken phobia.  I don’t know which one is worse, the chicken with a head or chicken with two feet attached. Do you see the nails? They are H-U-G-E, look at that!

My husband was a lucky guy not to be home at the scene. I DID NOT want to cook this chicken. I had to make a choice. Either to let my family starve on Sabbath day or feed them peanut butter & Jelly sandwich for supper.

Oh, Lord! Why art thou giving me such a tribulation…!
Julia Child and Ina Garten, what would you do if you are here?
I decided.  Closing one eye of mine…,  I proceed…,  and amputated the feet.  My family should be eternally grateful to me for doing this.

Okay, so that was my diary of a wimpy cook. How do you like that?
I better move on with my life. Straight to the recipe.

If you like chicken roast and want your chicken to be juicy and succulent with lemon/herb flavor without using the brine, try this method. I guarantee that your chicken will be moist without being dried out especially on the breasts. And with this recipe you can get your chicken ready to eat within an hour.


I used sage and thyme. You can use rosemary, marjoram or other type of herbs that are good for poultry.


Cut onion (or shallot) in half and break up garlic cloves into a few section from the head.


Cut cold butter into pieces. Sprinkle lemon zest (reserve lemon juice), chopped garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt evenly on top.


Lift up the skin of chicken from the bottom end to loosen up. Basically you are separating meat from the skin. Be careful  not to tear the skin.


And just insert the butter pieces under the skin.


There we go. Your *Darth Maul* chicken is just created. The butter mixture pieces will prevent the meat from getting dry out and keep them very moist.


Insert the sprigs of herbs over the breast under the skin as well.  I like to keep the herbs between skin and the meat so they will infuse the chicken with aroma without being burnt.


Sprinkle salt and pepper to the chicken cavity and stuff it with onion, garlic, and lemon wedges.


Truss the legs with kitchen twine and place your chicken in a roasting pan. Tuck the wings under the breasts so they don’t fly out while roasting.


Drizzle olive oil on top, then sprinkle salt, pepper, and paprika all over. Don’t be shy on salt. I like the skin to be crisp and salty.

Now, this cock-a-doodle-doo is ready to enter to a hot oven, preheated to 400F. Roast for 30 minutes.


Drizzle lemon juice and put it back to oven, reduce the temperature to 350F and continue to roast for another 20-25 minutes. Your chicken should show its beautiful brown nude.


I don’t use meat thermometer. One way to tell if your chicken is done is to jiggle the leg to see if they are willing to separate from the body. Also poke the thigh. If the juice runs clear, then your chicken is ready.
Let your chicken rest for 15 minutes, then carve.


Chicken Roast

Dinner is ready.  And this will be the first and the last chicken roast I will ever make in Malaysia.


Sunday Chicken Roast

“Come on, are you done taking pictures, mom?”

“Yeah, Let’s eat”

The Last (chicken) Supper went really well.

“Amen” to my cock-a-doodle-doo and a salute to the wimpy chef!


Sunday Chicken Roast

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Serving Size: about 4

Sunday Chicken Roast


  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1/2 stick butter, cut into 8 peices
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 2 lemons (zest and juice 1 lemon, the other cut into wedges)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • a few sprigs of sage
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • 1-2 onion, halved or quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, loosened
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • paprika


  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF
  2. Loosen the skin of chicken above the breast area.
  3. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt, lemon zest, and garlic over the butter pieces and insert to chicken under the skin evenly distributing above breast and thigh area, if you can. Insert 2-4 sprigs of each herb in the same manner.
  4. sprinkle salt and pepper inside chicken cavity and stuff with onion, garlic, herbs, and lemon wedges. Truss the legs if you wish.
  5. Place chicken in the roasting pan. Drizzle olive oil to chicken and rub evenly all over. Sprinkle generous amount of salt, then pepper and paprika.
  6. Place the pan to the hot oven. If your oven is convection, reduce the heat to 400ºF and roast for 30 minutes. Pour the reserved lemon juice over chicken and continue to roast on 350ºF for another 20-25 minutes.
  7. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before you carve.

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  1. 1


    Yep, I would have been a bit put off by the feet too, just because I wouldn’t be expecting them. They’re actually great when you make chicken stock; in fact I’ve bought chicken feet for just that purpose. I like to cook my chickens at a fairly high heat too. I go back and forth between flavoring them with herbs and stuffing them with onions, etc. or just salting and peppering them – it’s a great dish either way. Good post, and sorry you had to experience the feet!

    • 2

      Holly says

      I never thought about using chicken feet to make stock. People in an old time always says, nothing goes waste when it comes to food. I guess chicken feet has their purpose.

  2. 3

    kate - v says

    oh, the chicken feet! how that brings back memories. when i was growing up my first ‘cooking’ job that i remember was to clean and cook the chicken feet – we raised (and my mom killed) our own chickens. The legs and feet have kind-of scales in them and they had to go – scrub the nails – no dirt allowed to remain. then put the cleaned legs and feet inot a pan with water and bring to a boil then turn heat down – cook for quite a while – i can’t remember how long – and then strain liquid off and in the frig it turned to: chick gel! My mom would use some and preserve some for later use: aspic. we used to chew on the leg bones – maybe the dog got the rest – i don’t know – i was too young and that was too long ago to recall all the details – I was probably about 5 or 6 – there was no kindergarten and since my birthday was in January i did not start school until i was 6 1/2. Thanks for the reminder of memories!

    • 4

      Holly says

      Hi Kate
      It sounds like you helped making bone marrow stock. The gel is formed from collagen in the bone. Good stuff but takes a long time to simmer. I know some folks enjoys chicken feet as a delicacy but never been appetizing for me. I am glad that I experienced the chicken feet as for my cooking adventure but once is enough I think.

  3. 6


    Ha ha ha! You are brave, Holly!

    Chickens are often sold with their feet in France. And here’s a cooking secret — the feet make really delicious stock! :)

  4. 8


    Lol, it was fun to read, well for me because I grew up in family that razed chicken and my mother slaughtered one every Saturday for Sunday supper so I wouldn’t be surprised to see chicken with feet… :) Your family must be grateful for your bravery!

    • 9

      Holly says

      Thanks marina. I am wondering where you have spent your childhood. You must have had a wonderful surroundings with animals and nature.

      • 10


        I grew up in a little southern Eurepean country, and while my parents were pursuing their PhD, I spent many months in my grandmother’s country home. And after I started school and had to live in the city with my parents, my mother decided to have her own chickens and rabbits… :)

        • 11

          Holly says

          How nice to spend a lot of tie with your grandma in the country! Interesting that your mother wanted her own chicken and rabbits in the city. My husband had a pet chicken and a duck as a child in his suburban house and they lived for 15 years. He still misses them. LOL!

  5. 12


    This is so cute and funny :) Bravo for being so brave :)
    It reminds me of my daughter having to chop off the chicken head when they had to do the cooking at girl guide camp. She said they kept sawing and chopping but the head refused to come off. Most traumatic camp memory :)

    • 13

      Holly says

      Oh, my! That sounds really awful. That would be my worst nigthmare if I have to do that. But I bet it is something to talk about for a long time.

  6. 14


    Beautiful food, colors, composition, and what a fun story to read! Okay, fun because I did not have to personally handle that footed-chicken. Good job, Holly, in tackling that surprise! :) I am glad to now know what to expect if I ever buy a whole chicken in Hong Kong or Malaysia. :)

  7. 17

    Tammy says

    I wish you wouldn’t say ‘Asian’ in this post. Chickens are sold like this in a lot of other countries. You are Korean yourself. Shame really. Otherwise always enjoy your blog.

    • 18

      Holly says

      Well, Tammy
      I see what your point is. HOWEVER, you are over-thinking my point of view of the chicken I got and being too sensitive about it. I am a Korean as you strongly mentioned, and a proud Asian like yourself. I did not, by any means, have intention of offending my heritage because of what I wrote about the parts of chicken I got.
      As you mentioned, chickens are sold like that in many countries, and I respect their cuisines with whatever animal parts they cook with. I just don’t like seeing the chicken feet (some Koreans love them, though) unexpectedly and that happened to be in the countries I lived. I really did get scared. I would expressed my fear of seeing the feet or the head of chicken in the same manner wherever country I got it, whether it is in Korea or even in France. I would say the same thing: “chickens in Korea or France”. And I don’t think (hopefully) Koreans or French will get offended by it.

      As a writer of my own blog, I often write my post by light-heartily mind with my honest feeling towards the recipe ingredient. I call my kimchi stinky and smelly, or even cabbage going rotten (in humorous way). In online blog community, we should try to understand each other more positive way and be supportive.
      I am sorry if, by any chance, the choice of word “Asian” in my chicken roast post bothered you that much.

      Lastly, “SHAME” is a quite strong word to throw in this situation and I DO NOT appreciate that at all.

  8. 21


    Regarding ^^^ Good for you! I thoroughly enjoyed this post and laughed all the way through :)

    This chicken looks amazing. I will definitely try your method. I wish I had seen this before all my garden herbs shriveled from neglect. How do you think dried herbs would be?

  9. 23

    Lisa says

    Hi Holly,
    If I saw the feet with the claws, due to little experience preparing a whole chicken, my first reaction would be to toss it! Glad you saved your family’s dinner.

    Do you know by what standards a chicken is classified free-range? In the states there’s a ridiculously lenient standard, as little as 2 hours for them to roam. My sister-in-law raises chickens in Virginia. Truly free-range.

    • 24

      Holly says

      Hi Lisa
      Honestly I don’t know the exact standards. It might be very difficult to find the truly classified “free-range” chicken anywhere unless you know or have visited the farm yourself to see how long they have been roaming outdoors. I heard that some chickens are only been out for 5 minutes and still gets a free-range sticker on the package. There is a need for better regulation on the part. Does your sister-in-law runs a farm in VA?

  10. 25


    Ya, if i unexpectedly saw chicken feet with those long claws, i’d be scared too, eewwww! Tell you what Holly, some supermarkets will chop whatever parts you dont want, like Tesco, Carrefour and Jaya/Village Grocer. And of course, the wet market chicken seller would do all these too. But wet markets here are not for the faint hearted! Your roast chicken looked so beautiful and absolutely scrumptious, pls do not stop cooking these beautiful meal for your family, because of one incident :)

  11. 27


    I am half korean and I would be freaked out about seeing the feet!!! Brave Holly! Do you leave the herbs under the skin after it is cooked? Funny post!

  12. 29

    Lucy L says

    Oh Holly, I had to laugh when I read your post, but felt bad you had to suffer a fright!
    I’m from HK, and have to say I love chicken feet at dim sum. This chicken recipe sounds awesome and i can’t wait to try it, thanks for sharing and hopefully no more frights for you! :)

    • 30

      Holly says

      Thank you Lucy. It is so good to hear from you again. I remember seeing chicken feet at dim sum restaurants in HK. Some Koreans love to eat chicken feet as well. But it never was my thing, though. I think after this incident, I became braver tackling with any cooking ingredients.

  13. 31

    Lucy L says

    I log onto your blog every monday without fail, but I don’t leave enough messages! I’m glad to hear you will become braver, can’t wait to see more and more good recipes to come! I now cook korean regularly at home and get regular cravings for kimchee.. do you think I’ve become korean through your blog? 😀

  14. 33

    Grace says

    Tell me about it. I’m Malaysian and I often roast chickens for dinnner, and had a few heart stopping moments myself. I’ve bought seemingly nicely packaged chickens before but when i opened it up, i’ll usually get a shock, and i’m always deciding whether to just f**K it and make pastas instead, or brave myself to chop off unsightly necks or feet *shudder* Often I will see their necks and innards tucked into their cavities and i have to brave myself in getting everything out. eek..


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