04 March 2008

Chicken Dinner

All right, it's not the most flattering photo ever but I think this chicken has every right to be proud. See how golden and puffed the breast is? This is another no fail recipe from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, which is my go to book for Italian cooking.

I decided, rather at the last minute, to have some friends over for dinner last weekend since it was the beginning of spring break and I could blow off my school work. I wanted to make something light, since it was the beginning of meteorological spring* as well, but that would also involve minimal work in the kitchen once the guests arrived. I thought a roast chicken would do the trick and turned to Marcella for advice.

The first recipe in the poultry section immediately caught my eye. 'Roast Chicken with Lemons' sounded like just the thing, since I love lemons and it had only two ingredients. Really simple, really good. Really- give this a try next time you are going to roast a chicken. It was delicious, with a subtle lemon flavor and according to my friends who eat it, rather tasty skin as well.

This is the basic recipe from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, interpreted by me. It looks long but it's actually really easy.

Roast Chicken with Lemons
Serves 4-6 depending on the size of the chicken and your appetite

3-4 lb. chicken, naturally raised if possible
2 small lemons (really, the smallest you can find)
salt and pepper

- Heat oven to 350F.

- Remove and discard giblets if your chicken has them. Trim the excess fat from the chicken, leaving enough skin at the cavity opening to close the bird up later.

- Sprinkle the chicken both inside and out with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Rub in with your hands.

- Wash and dry the lemons. Roll them on the counter a few times to soften and pierce each lemon at least 20 times with a sharp fork or other sturdy yet sharp kitchen implement. Place the lemons inside the chicken cavity and close up the opening with toothpicks or a trussing needle (I didn't have either so punched holes in the skin with a knife and threaded it with cooking twine- probably more than you wanted to know but--). Marcella warns not to close the cavity too tightly as it could lead to explosion (she actually does warn about this). Tie the legs together loosely at the knuckle ends.

- Place the bird breast side down in the roasting pan or pyrex dish. No oil needed- just put the bird in. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully turn the bird over, trying not to break the skin. I did this by grabbing it on either side with a wad of paper towels and then jiggling it slightly to release the skin from the pan before rolling it over. When you've got the bird breast side up, put it back in the oven.

- Bake for a further 25-35 minutes and then increase the heat to 400F for a final 20 minutes of baking (it needs 20-25 minutes per pound of total cooking time).

- Show off your chicken to your guests, then bring it back to the kitchen for carving. Spoon some of the pan juices over the carved pieces of chicken to keep them moist and serve. (A note-- the lemons are still very juicy and hot- squeezing them could cause a blast of superheated lemon juice to shoot at either yourself of your guests)

*Meteorological winter, as defined in the DC Metro area is December, January and February, the three coldest months of the year. Factoid of the day courtesy of The Washington Post.


JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

This sounds great Jen! I am sure your friends really enjoyed it - a whole roasted chicken is always such a treat!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

This sounds great Jen! I am sure your friends really enjoyed it - a whole roasted chicken is always such a treat!

Kate said...

Your chicken is beautiful! I attempting to roast my first one tomorrow, I hope it turns out as lovely as yours!
Thanks for the birthday wishes! And happy belated Birthday to you!
Have you tried the DB challenge yet? It's delicious if you haven't! And well worth the work!

Jen said...

Hi Jenn-- Thanks for the comment as always...

Kate- good luck with your chicken! I'm planning to do the DB challenge this weekend... I hope it turns out well.

Kate said...

I was hoping to get you the good macaroon recipe that my sister uses, but she hasn't gotten back to me. I realized however, that I think I made a mistake with making mine, and that's why I was disappointed with them. So I'm giving you the correct recipe and hopefully it will turn out better!
I had doubled the recipe, and felt that it was way to eggy, making some of them bake up more like cookie blobs, than shaped macaroons.
The recipe calls for:
2/3 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut

Oven goes to 350º
Whisk sugar, eggs whites and salt in a large bowl
Toss coconut into mixture until completely coated
Moisten your finger tips with water (this helps dramatically!) and form macaroons into pleasing shape
Space them about one inch apart on lined baking sheet
Bake around 16 to 20 minutes until outside is golden, and inside dried
Cool on rack

I would recommend that you pour the egg mixture over the coconut a little at a time, so that you keep it from getting overly eggy. That way you can control it better. I added in mini chocolate chips because I have a firm belief that all things must have chocolate in them :)
I also did some searching online and found what looks like an interesting version on the Food Network site. It's from Alton Brown, who is great with the science behind food, so I'm going to try these out soon. If your adventurous you might want to try them as well!

Hope this helps!

Kate said...

Here is the one from my sister that she likes. You can leave out the lemon if you wanted to!

makes 16 cookies
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

oven to 325 degrees. prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.
stir together egg whites, sugar, zest, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until combined,
then stir in coconut. drop 16 tablespoon sized mounds about 1 1/2 inches apart
onto baking sheet. (if you have one you can use a small ice cream scoop).
bake until tops are pale golden in spots, 15-20 minutes. sometimes i find they
need to bake longer if you want them more crispy and golden. lift parchment
sheet from tray and place on cooling rack to cool, then peel cookies from paper.

(the original recipe says to foil line a baking sheet, and then butter and flour it.
this is obviously not gluten free, so i just used plain parchment and it was fine.
a few cookies stuck a little bit, but no biggie.)

Jen said...


Thank you so much for the recipes and sorry for taking so long getting back to you. I have a massive econ take home exam due this week that has sort of absorbed all of my time.

Hopefully once it's turned in I'll be able to have my friend over for dinner and make (and post about!) the macaroons.