Roasted Chicken with Saffron, Rosemary and Lemon

Prep Time: 2 and 1/2 Hours
Yields: 4 Servings

Saffron is a spice native to the Middle East that has a slightly bitter, honey-like flavor and very pungent aroma. Coming from the dried stigmas of a flower, it takes 75,000 blossoms or 225,000 hand-picked stigmas to make a single pound, which explains why it is the world's most expensive spice. Because of its cost, intense flavor and strong dying properties, very little saffron is required for culinary purposes and the key is to distribute it evenly throughout the dish being prepared.

1 (3-pound) broiler chicken
2 large pinches saffron threads
4 sprigs rosemary, divided
1 lemon, thinly sliced and divided
salt and black pepper to taste
granulated garlic to taste
1/8 pound butter, softened at room temperature
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup minced garlic
1/4 cup diced carrot

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rinse chicken under cold running water and pat dry. Season the outside and inside cavity of the chicken generously with salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Set aside. Place softened butter in a large mixing bowl, add saffron and basil then blend well to incorporate. Rub butter mixture under breast skin and distribute evenly over outer skin and inside cavity. Place 2 lemon slices and 1 sprig of rosemary under the skin of each breast. Stuff onion, celery, minced garlic, carrot and remaining lemon and rosemary inside chicken. Tuck the wings under the back and tie legs together with kitchen string to keep them in place during the cooking process. Place chicken on a baking sheet with a 1-inch lip. Roast, uncovered, 1 and 1/2–2 hours, basting occasionally with drippings. Remove, place on a serving platter and let rest 15–20 minutes prior to carving.