Monday, April 5, 2010

Lemon Chicken

Well, my friend Charmaine just called and asked again for this recipe and said, "By the way, it's been since January! Time to blog." Indeed it is. This recipe is for Charmaine who, after having it at my house, made it for some American guests who were stunned by how good it was. They kept asking, "Is this chicken?" It could be partly due to the quality of the chickens here in Italy which far surpass most of what I used to buy in the States so, if you can, spend a little more to get a better quality bird. It is a fantastic secondo (second dish) to risotto or pasta and it has a secret ingredient called gremolata which is a mixture of chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest. Once you get the hang of making gremolata you will dazzle your guests by sprinkling it on seafood, pasta or using it the traditional way as an accompaniment to veal or Ossobucco. One of my favorite chef's begins each day by chopping parsley and garlic together to use throughout the day and when he doesn't know what to cook, he begins chopping parsley and garlic and by the time he is finished he has figured it out.

This recipe for the chicken originally came from Martha Stewart but since I've made it for 14 years now it feels like mine. To start combine in a bowl:

1/3 cup coarse (grosso) sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Loosen the skin of the chicken from the flesh and rub/pour the lemon/salt mixture under the skin and in the cavity of the chicken. For the best flavor and texture, marinate the chicken for a few hours or even the day before you roast it, but if you've only a half an hour it is still worth the effort. When done marinatiing, rinse the salt off the chicken and prepare the gremolata. I'll give you some measurments but it really is a personal preference how much garlic to use.

1 bunch parsley
2-5 cloves garlic
zest of 1 or 2 lemons

Chop the parsley, garlic and lemon zest together and voila' you have gremolata. Mix the gremolata with six tablespoons soft butter and spread under the skin of the chicken and in the cavity. Add a few quarters of lemons and bay leaves to the cavity of the chicken and roast at 180 celsius (350 f) for 45 min to an hour, just until the juices run clear. Overcooking chicken of course is a shame so if you want it just right use a meat thermometer. I can't live without my instant read thermometer and I test it a couple of times until it reaches 160-165 f.

Serve on a Vietri Platter with roasted potatoes and the lemons scattered around. Brillante! Wish I had a picture to post as it really is spectacular. Maybe Charmaine will post a picture of hers once she makes it again tonight. Baci!