Thursday, September 24, 2020





From Mary Jane Maffini

Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t hold back Fall.  It’s arrived, bringing the need for socks and sweaters and cool weather comfort food to go along with the colorful leaves.  Some family members are not too thrilled about that.

Luckily there are some meals can make you happy that it’s colder and getting dark way too early. This is one such recipe. It’s one of many that I love from Lucy Waverman, one of my favorite Canadian food writers. I have all her cookbooks, but this dish came from her column in the Globe and Mail. I have made a few changes. Why is that always irresistible? At any rate, this dinner is fast and very easy and clean-up is a breeze. The star of the recipe is the cast-iron pan. For some reason, the vegetables caramelize better in the iron pan and the chicken browns fantastically in a fairly short time.  It is way better than a regular roasting pan, in my humble opinion.  We make it all the time as soon as the weather is cool, and sometimes even when it isn't. The Hubster is in love with it. It’s great for leftovers too (if there are any!) and the bones make great soup if that’s your thing. 



1 3-4 lb (1.5 to 2 kg) whole chicken, preferably naturally raised

3 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 tsp coarse sea salt

1 tsp fresh thyme and 1 tsp fresh rosemary (or more if you like)

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 tsp grated lemon rind

2 tsps lemon juice (divided)

¾ tsp Hungarian half-sharp paprika (I use Penzeys) – you could use a bit of cayenne instead

1 tsp finely cut garlic (or from a jar)

3 carrots, about 3/4 lb

1 largish onion, Spanish or cooking


Preheat oven to 400 F. Dry chicken with paper towels.

Don’t bother peeling the carrots; just wash them. Peel the onion. Cut the onion in half then cut each half into 4 wedges. Cut the carrots into long thin pieces. Scatter onions and carrots on the base of a cast-iron skillet. Toss vegetables with remaining 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp lemon juice.


Combine 2 tbsp of olive oil, salt, thyme, pepper, paprika, lemon zest and juice and garlic. Rub marinade over chicken pushing some under skin if possible.


Place chicken on top of carrot and onion. If you want potatoes, add them now as well.


Roast chicken until well-browned and juices run clear. A basic guide is 15 minutes per pound with 15 minutes tacked on the end, so one hour for a 3-lb chicken, one hour, 15 minutes for a 4-pounder.

Let rest for 10 minutes before carving.


Lucy says: remove wings and eat them yourself: They’re the cook’s treat! Around here you 'd have to take a number to get in line.

Serve with the onions and carrots.

You can make gravy if you like, but we think it’s just fine like this.   We served it with roasted cauliflower and salad.



Mary Jane Maffini is the author of three and a half mystery series: the Camilla Maffini mysteries, the Fiona Silk capers and the Charlotte Adams mysteries – number six coming soon!  The Charlotte Adams books have recently been optioned for television films. Details to come when they can be made public. With her daughter Victoria Maffini, MJ collaborated on The Book Collector Mysteries as Victoria Abbott. Victoria Abbott spent several happy years on Mystery Lovers Kitchen. MJ  is very glad to be back. 

Don't forget to check out MJ's Canadian books:  Camilla MacPhee features a fortyish widowed lawyer who runs an advocacy agency for victims of violet crime, in Ottawa, Canada's capital city. Life would be easier if she didn't have the world's worst office assistant, the world's bossiest sisters and, arguably, the world's greatest stubborn streak. If you like your mysteries a bit edgy with a side order of humor, these could be for you.

Keep up on the news!  Sign up for MJ's newsletter HERE 




  1. Always peel carrots. That's where most of the pesticide residue is.

    1. That is a good point, Anonymous! These were from our local organic market. I'll amend that recipe for next time.

  2. The recipe looks great, Mary Jane. I'm always looking for a new way to roast chicken, but I'm afraid my cast iron skillet is too small. What size pan did you use?

  3. Yum! I love anything in a cast iron pan and this looks so autumnal. Also, love the pic of the dog!

  4. It's very old so I measured it, Maya. 11 1/2 inches. The recipe would probably work with a smaller chicken and a 10 inch pan. Thanks for asking!

    1. Thank you, Mary Jane. Mine is a 10-inch pan. Then there's my grandmother's huge cast iron pot, which I'd have to spend half a day cleaning. Hmm. I'll look for a small chicken.

  5. thank you for this yummy recipe. oh but your puppies face. LOL

    1. I hear you, Lori. She's quite dramatic and at 14 she's allowed to ham it up.

  6. I have my grandmother's old cast iron chicken roaster--an oblong Dutch oven shaped like a chicken--which makes the most delicious tender and crispy chicken I've ever had! Thanks for reminding me that it's time to get it out and use it again!

    1. Not shaped like a chicken, that is, but the oblong shape fits the chicken better. (Though the idea of a chicken-shaped pan does make me smile.)