Roast Chicken with lemon is one of all-time greats. In the late 20th century, chicken has become almost our universal protein. So if you want the safest bet for feeding any number of people, from dinner party guests to crowds at a wedding, try chicken. Roast chicken is the simplest and cheapest one: no fat to cook with, no basting to do, no stuffing to prepare, no condiments except for salt and pepper. It is amazingly juicy and flavorful, but you must make it exactly according to the recipe of Marcella Hazan.
For 4 serves you need:
- A 1.5-1.75kg chicken
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 rather small lemons
- Trussing needle and string
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C .
Wash the chicken thoroughly inside and out with cold water. Remove all the bits of fat hanging loose. Let the bird sit for about 10 minutes on a slightly titled plate to drain all the water out of it. Thoroughly pat it dry all around with a tea towel or kitchen paper. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and black pepper on the chicken , rubbing it in with your fingers over all its body and its cavity.
Wash the lemons in cold water and dry them with a tea towel. Soften each lemon by placing it on a counter and rolling it back and forth while at the same time putting firm downwards pressure on it with the palm of the hand. Puncture each of the lemons in at least 20 places, using a sturdy round cocktail stick, a trussing needle, a sharp-pinted fork or similar implement.
Place both lemons in the bird’s cavity. Close up the opening with cocktail sticks or with a trussing needle and string. Close it well but don’t make an absolute airtight job of it because the air inside expands as it becomes hot and if has nowhere to go it may cause the chicken to 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. If the skin is unbroken, the chicken will puff up as it cooks, and the string serves only to keep the thighs from spreading apart and splitting the skin.
Putthe chicken into a roasting pan, breast-side 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. When turning it, try not to puncture the skin. If kept intact, the chicken will swll like a balloon, which makes for an arresting presentation at the table later. Do not worry too much about it, however, however, because even if it fails to swell, the flavor will not be affected.
Cook for another 30-35 minutes, then turn the oven thermostat up to 200 grade Celcius and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Calculate between 20 and 25 minutes total cooking time for each 450g. There is no need to turn the chicken again.
Whether your bird has puffed up or not, bring it to the table wholw and leave the lemons inside until it is carved and opened. The juices that run out out are perfectly delicious, so be sure to spoon them over the chicken slices. The lemons will have shrivelled up but they still contain some juice; do not squeeze them, they may squirt.