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Flavorful Fridays: Roast Chicken with Lemon

March 12, 2010

Marcella Hazan has had people laud her Roast Chicken with Lemon as being “the most amazingly simple recipe, the juiciest, best-tasting chicken.” As a novice chicken roaster, this is excellent news. I realize that I made a turkey at Thanksgiving, and while chickens and turkeys aren’t so vastly different, I did feel slightly intimidated by the thought of roasting a chicken. I’m not sure what it was. Maybe it was the thought of being responsible for thoroughly cooking an entire bird. Whatever it was, I was determined to add this to my culinary repertoire.

So, in an attempt to conquer the roasted chicken recipe, I armed myself with a chicken and the three other ingredients listed in the book. That’s right, only three ingredients go into making this the juiciest, best-tasting chicken ever. It also allows it to win the simplest recipe award. And seriously, this was the most amazing roasted chicken I’ve ever eaten (sorry, Mom!). It was moist and flavorful. It was so good that after making it one night for Will and I to eat for dinner, I made it less than a week later to share with some friends coming over for dinner. I never knew roasting a chicken could be so easy, so give it a try, and please let me know what you think!

Roast Chicken with Lemons

From Marcella Hazan’s Essential of Classic Italian Cooking


A 3- to 4-pound chicken


Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill

2 rather small lemons


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash the chicken thoroughly in cold water, both inside and out. Remove all the bits of fat hanging loose. Let the bird sit for about 10 minutes on a slightly tilted plate to let all the water drain out of it. Pat it thoroughly dry all over with cloth or paper towels.

Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and black pepper on the chicken, rubbing it with your fingers over all its body and into its cavity.

Wash the lemons in cold water and dry them with a towel. Soften each lemon by placing it on a counter and rolling it back and forth as you put firm downward pressure on it with the palm of your hand. Puncture the lemons in at least 20 places each, using a sturdy round toothpick or fork.

Place both lemons in the bird’s cavity. Close up the opening with toothpicks or with trussing needle and string. Close it well, but don’t make an absolutely airtight job of it because the chicken may burst. Run kitchen string from one leg to the other, tying it at both knuckle ends. Leave the legs in their natural position without pulling them tight.

Put the chicken into a roasting pan, breast facing down. Do not add cooking fat of any kind. This bird is self-basting, so you need not fear it will stick to the pan. Place it in the upper third of the preheated oven. After 30 minutes, turn the chicken over to have the breast face up.

Cook for another 30 to 35 minutes, then turn the oven up to 400 degrees, and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Calculate between 20 and 25 minutes’ total cooking time for each pound. There is no need to turn the chicken again.

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