Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Roasting Chicken with Rosemary and Lime + The Most Asked Author Question by Cleo Coyle

The top question authors are asked (after "Have you ever met Stephenie Meyer?") is probably: "Where do you get your ideas?"

The question isn't a bad one, really, just way too general, which is why some novelists roll their eyes when they hear it.

I'll give you a culinary analogy. Imagine lifting a menu and asking a chef: "Where do you get your ideas?"

"Excuse me," the chef would likely reply. "For which course? Which dish?!"

Like a multipage restaurant menu, a piece of fiction has dozens if not hundreds of ideas layered into it. We authors draw from our pasts and presents, our pets and peccadilloes. We're inspired by our friends and families, our reading and hobbies. We might groove on a passing conversation or a passing thunderstorm; an exquisite or exquisitely bad meal; a brilliant sunrise or a lunar eclipse (dang, another Stephenie Meyer reference).

We writers harvest ideas 24/7, and spend months if not years cooking them into works of fiction, poetry, or dramatic lit. That's why a better question for an author might be: "Where did you get the idea for that particular storyline, character, or (in the case of mystery writing) crime..."

Cleo Coyle, who never
met Stephenie Meyer, is
author of The Coffeehouse
Like writing, cooking is an inspirational occupation, and often the ingredients dictate the dish. In the case of today's recipe, rosemary did the talking. Yes, a gorgeous green bundle of piney rosemary waved her little needles at me, and I swooned.

"Chop me up and cook me with a chicken," rosemary whispered in her needling little voice, and (for a moment) the shimmering image of a succulent, perfectly roasted rosemary-lemon chicken floated down the grocery store aisle. I blinked and it was gone, replaced with a rather burly produce manager, wondering why I had his herbs to my ear.

Granted, rosemary-lemon is a classic flavor combo, one I also use in my go-to recipe for rack of lamb. (Click here to download a free PDF of that recipe.)

Krista also did a wonderful rosemary-lemon chicken post, sharing a diet version using skinless breasts. Click here to get Krista's recipe.

But...after making Key Lime Coolers (cookies) last week and doing the lime taste test, I still had plenty of Persian limes on hand. (Click here if you missed the cookies post.)

With so many limes still rolling around my countertop, I decided to live dangerously, and switch the classic lemons for limes in my chicken recipe. I'm glad I did, too. My husband and my taste buds found the change a lovely and lively one.

Final Note: You might think it odd (at the end of the recipe) when I suggest squeezing a wedge of lime on the finished, carved meat, but a squeeze of lemon often finishes a dish, and I found the tart and tangy dash of lime especially refreshing on a warm summer day. I hope you do, too...


To download a free PDF of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, click here.


4 – 6 pound whole chicken
5 – 6 fresh limes (medium size)
1 tablespoon sea salt
6 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
½ teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil (divided)


Step 1: Prep meat: First preheat your oven to 350º F. Allow the meat to reach room temperature (20 to 30 minutes outside the refrigerator). Rinse the chicken and pat dry. If your limes were in the refrigerator, warm them to room temperature, as well.

Step 2: Stuff the bird: Quarter one lime and place the sections inside the chicken cavity, along with a dash of sea salt and white pepper. Close the cavity. (I use a simple wooden skewer for this.)

Step 3: Create the rosemary-lime slurry: Place the sea salt into a small bowl and smash the garlic on it. Mix in the freshly squeezed juice of 2 to 3 limes (enough to measure about 1/4 cup). Add the chopped rosemary, poultry seasoning, white pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Now rub this slurry all over the bird and place breast side up on the greased rack.

Step 4: Roast: Lightly coat the top of your broiler pan or roasting rack with the final tablespoon of olive oil. (For easier clean up, I also like to cover the bottom portion of my pan with aluminum foil.) Place your pan in the center of your oven for about 25 minutes per pound, giving a bird of 6 pounds about 2½ hours of cooking time; a bird of 4 pounds about an hour and forty minutes. You’re looking for the thickest part of the thigh to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

TO FINISH: Once cooked, allow the chicken to stand for 15 minutes before carving. To keep it warm, tent foil over the bird. If you cut into the bird right out of the oven, the juices will run out and your chicken will be dry instead of succulent.

TO SERVE: Cut your remaining limes into wedges and serve on the side with the chicken. Invite guests to squeeze a little juice over the meat before digging in, and please do…

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author
of  The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes,
win free coffee, or learn about
my books, visit my *virtual*
coffeehouse at:

Cleo's culinary mystery novels are published by
Penguin USA.
Click here or on the covers above
to learn more about them.


  1. Oh now, you can be honest with us... I had a chance when I was young to sign on for that secret mailing service of ideas that all authors sign on for. That weekly service that mails ideas right to your doorstep. I passed at the time, but am confident that if I had only signed on to the secret service, i would be Stephen king right now.

    But I bought an AMC PACER instead.

    Best not to look back on the choices we make.

    But what I really want to know is where you get the ideas for your photographs. Those are spectacular! I haven't roasted a whole chicken in ages... Too cheap to pass up the already cooked rotisserie chickens the store sells for 2/3rds the cost of a raw one.

    I am in love with this idea though.

  2. Love, love, love your analogy, Cleo!! I was smiling and nodding the entire time I read. Laughed out loud at "rosemary" and her needling little voice. Great post. And I'm growing rosemary in my garden for the first time this year. Now I have a wonderful way to use it! Thanks!!

  3. PS to Dave: Shhh.....we don't like too many people to know about that service!

  4. love lime with my chicken and this one sounds like a winner for sure!

  5. Dave – LOL on your answer to “Where do you get your ideas?" You’re on the same wavelength as at least two famous novelists:

    Harlan Ellison’s usual reply to Where do you get your ideas?: "Poughkeepsie."

    Here’s Neil Gaiman’s response: "In the beginning, I used to tell people the not very funny answers, the flip ones: 'From the Idea-of-the-Month Club,' I’d say, or 'From a little ideas shop in Bognor Regis,' 'From a dusty old book full of ideas in my basement...' Then I got tired of the not very funny answers, and these days I tell people the truth: 'I make them up…out of my head.'"

    I do think it's a very good question to put to any author, just needs to be narrowed a bit. :)

    On the photo ideas question, you're a sweetheart. Thank you for the nice words. Food photography is a fun hobby. So many photos to drool over (as you know from our blogroll, lol). My goal each week is to get YOU to drool.

    And finally - A PACER!!! HA! You're bringing back memories. My high school physics teacher drove a pacer, and I had the most embarrassing schoolgirl crush on him. Consequently, a Pacer and a Porsche now have the same affect on me. Yeah, like that Proust’s madeleine thing, it's all in the associations. :)

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  6. Julie -

    Awesome that you have an herb garden. I should take the time to plant one. The frangrances alone must be worth it. As it is, I must rely on that burly produce manager to keep me supplied. He's a pretty good dealer though. (Uh-oh, that phrasing makes it sound as though the DEA should be involved. Too much crime writing. :)) Speaking of which: I'm delighted to know you agree on the ideas front. A fun topic for writers and readers.

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  7. Claudia (aka @pegasuslegend)-

    I'm glad to know you like limes, too! I used lemons so often with chicken that I hadn't considered the alternative until my fruit bowl overfloweth with limes. Now I'm hooked. Lime and rosemary will be married to my chicken from this day forward. :)

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  8. Where does an author get his/her ideas? Same place a photographer gets her photos: from everything she sees or thinks about!

    You said "lime and rosemary" and my tastebuds jumped to attention. Rosemary is my favorite herb, and trust me, if I can grow a year's worth in a pot on my back porch, so can you!

    Dave's right about your food photography - it IS a stunner. I enjoy studying the photos as much as I enjoy making the recipes. It's fun to see how you use light, props, and arrangement to coax us all into drooling at our first sight of your photos!

  9. My stomach is rumbling and my mouth is salivating....

  10. Laine (of Laineshots) -

    Aw, thanks. You know I'm a big fan of your photos! Lots in common with writing, as you rightly note -- framing, observation, contrast. But of course in crime writing, we get to kill people, so there's no contest. :)

    On the growing of rosemary: Thank you for the encouragement. I do admire all of you who grow things and I enjoy hearing what you're harvesting. My own thumb is on the brown side, unforunately, even though my dad was a fantastic Italian-American gardener (still miss his tomatoes!). Maybe next year, I'll give it a fresh try. (I do love the idea of little pots filled with kitchen herbs. Sigh.)

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  11. The Tame Lion --

    Well, I'm glad to hear that! We aim to make you drool here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. If only we could serve our blog visitors a little taste of what we make every day. Yes, yes...someone needs to tell Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. We need a real-time "tasting" App. tout de suite!

    Cheers and thanks for dropping in,
    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  12. Cleo, great analogy! Love rosemary with chicken. It's how I always cook it. I usually use lemon or wine but the idea of lime is luscious. Yum!

    Thanks for another great idea. And Stephanie Meyers? Um, who?


  13. Cleo, what a clever idea to substitute limes for lemons in roasted chicken! Don't know why I never thought of doing that before?! (And I also laughed about your rosemary's needling voice! HA! I like your sense of humor.)

    I've been buying limes by the ton as I've had cravings for everything limey in the past 6 months or so. Have all the ingredients on hand, including a frozen whole chicken in the freezer, and I,too, grow rosemary--so we'll be having your lime-rosemary chicken in the next few days.

    I always enjoy your photos, they're so mouth-wateringly good! Isn't food porn a fabulous hobby?
    Also loved the writers quotes on the origin of ideas--some very creative lines!

    It's great to be home again and back in the Kitchen. I missed y'all, as this is my favorite food blog to hang out!

  14. I love the combination of lime and rosemary in this recipe, Cleo! Once again, your photos are fantastic! I feel like I can reach through the laptop and have some supper..(if only!!)

  15. I get tickled when there is a cyber co-inky-dink...the team at Chez Phillipe prepared roast chicken this very last night for my birthday!! Limes have supplanted lemons at our house the last few months...not sure why but I'm happy about it! A few "lime" hints for everyone...if you microwave your line for 15~20 seconds you will get more juice...also if you roll it on the counter with slight pressure...a lot more juice!

    I took leftover chicken today and shredded it, put it in a tortilla with some more lime juice, chopped cilantro and onion...yummy!!!

    As always your photos tell a glorious culinary tale...thanks, Cleo!!!


  16. Avery -

    Glad to know you enjoyed today's recipe. Looks like limes are especially popular this summer.

    Here's a clue to solve the mystery for you. Stephenie Meyer (yes, that's the way she spells her names) is the international mega-bestselling author of... CLICK HEREand all will be revealed. :)

    ~ Cleo

  17. Lynn in Texas -

    Right back at ya, girl! It's great to see you in our Kitchen. :)

    ANOTHER lady with a green thumb, too!! Maybe someday a few grassy sprouts will appear on my brown thumb. I can only hope. Until then, I will dream of little pots of herbs, lining my windowsill. (Actually, one or more of my furry NY strays is usually lining that sill so I better come up with another plan.) In any event, Lynn, I thank you for the happy comment and I hope you enjoy the limey recipe!

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  18. Elizabeth (aka Riley Adams)--

    Aw, thanks! If the foodie photos make you hungry, I know they're workin'.

    As always, I look forward to your weekly post on Wednesday. Can't wait to see what the author of FINGER LICKIN' DEAD is going to cook up next. :)

    ~ Cleo

  19. Nancy --

    I almost fell off my chair reading "co-inky-dink." You are THE BEST for making me laugh, and I often need it at this time of night. Sending XXXX and OOOO to you and the family at Chez Phillipe.

    Also - GREAT tips on the limes! Got that everyone? Microwave your limes for 15 seconds and roll them on the counter with slight pressure to get the best juice yield.

    Leftover recipe from Nancy on the rosemary-lime chicken. Shred it up, place it on a tortilla with cilantro, onion, and a squeeze of fresh lime. Roll and eat with joy! (Laine, you can leave out the cilantro.)

    Cheers everyone and thanks for all the fish!
    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

    P.S. Stephenie Meyer: If you stop by, leave a comment. I'm sure we will all fall off our chairs.