5 Cornish hens or a 4lb chicken
22 fresh sage leaves
3 cloves garlic
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp. olive oil
Ground black pepper, to taste
8 sprigs parsley
2 small onions, quartered
4 carrots, cut into 2" pieces
Heat oven to 475° (for cornish hens do 375°).
Rinse chicken under cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Peel lemon, avoiding white pith. Finely chop lemon peel, sage, and garlic together; place in a bowl. Add butter and 1 tsp. salt. Stir to combine. Quarter the peeled lemon; set aside.
Using your fingers and a small, sharp knife, loosen skin of chicken from breasts and thighs. Slip butter mixture between skin and flesh, spreading it evenly. Rub skin with oil; season skin and cavity with salt and pepper to taste. Stuff with quartered lemon, parsley, and 1 quartered onion. Tie legs together with kitchen twine, if you like.
Put remaining quartered onion and carrots into center of roasting pan and place chicken on top of them. Roast for 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 400° & roast for an hour (for cornish hens just roast at 375° for 1 1/2 hours to 1 3/4 hours). Continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh (without touching bone) reads 165°.
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