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I have two chicken recipes that I've perfected over the years:

  • Roasted spatchcock in the oven, in a pre-heated cast iron pan, using a rub with oil, paprika, and garlic
  • Rotisserie on the grill, stuffed with a lemon, and basted with a sweet tomato-based sauce

The oven-roasted version results in nice crispy skin and great pan juices from the fat melting out of the chicken mixing with the rub. The rotisserie version has a nice lemon flavor from the whole lemon.

Since I can't use my rotisserie indoors (it's a grill attachment), I'd like to figure out how to get that lemon flavor into the chicken as we move into weather where I can't cook outdoors.

I've seen several recipes that involve roasting chicken in a cast iron skillet with lemon (for example, here and here), but I'm skeptical, as I have previously ruined the seasoning in my skillet by using too much vinegar when deglazing, and I know that lemon juice can also be used for deglazing. I'm also aware that there can be issues with acidic liquids leaching iron out of the pan and/or corroding the pan.

But perhaps I'm asking the impossible. Is there any way to get lemon flavor into a chicken that's roasted in a cast iron skillet, without ruining the seasoning?

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  • "ruined the seasoning in my skillet by using too much vinegar when deglazing" ... this sounds like you don't have a very well-seasoned pan. Nothing short of oven cleaner should take that seasoning off.
    – FuzzyChef
    Oct 6, 2021 at 5:36

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This really depends on your existing seasoning. I have a cast iron pan that I have maintained for years. I roast chicken in it, sometimes with lemon slices, I don't have a problem with the seasoning. I occasionally wash it with soap and water (though that is not the general cleaning practice I use), with no problems.

If you don't want lemon on the surface of the pan, you could marinate your chicken. You could also put lemon slices under the skin.

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