Have you ever cooked with preserved lemons? I read about them this fall in A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus (highly recommend for recipes organized by season!) and was surprised that I had never even heard of them before. Preserved lemons are basically pickled lemons – you store them tightly in a jar covered in their own juices and then douse with salt and seasonings. I used bay leaves and a single stick of cinnamon when making my own batch.
I had my lemons in their jar for about two months and decided it was time to put them to use. One of my favorite dishes to make at home is roast chicken. There is something so comforting about warm chicken from the oven with savory spices. While I sometimes elect to roast chicken thighs out of convenience, I get a lot of joy from roasting a whole chicken. The process takes a bit longer, giving me a greater appreciation for the meal. And it’s just so beautiful once done!
Another cookbook I’ve turned to a lot over the past year is The Tucci Table by Stanley Tucci. I have always adored Mr. Tucci in movies like The Devil Wears Prada, Big Night, and Julie and Julia. I think he is witty and utterly charming. My dad gifted The Tucci Table to me for Christmas in celebration of our common admiration of the actor. The cookbook is so fantastic. It centers around Tucci’s Italian heritage and offers an array of dishes using simple ingredients prepared with care to create something beautiful.
Ive turned to his roast chicken recipe many times. It is simple and allows the flavor of the chicken to shine as it is complimented by some good ole butter. In combination with my sweet and salty preserved lemons, the chicken was quite the treat.
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 shallot
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 4 sprigs of rosemary
- 1 preserved lemon, cut into quarters
- 4lb whole chicken
- 1/2 whole yellow onion, roughly cut
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup white wine
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- Heat 6 tbs butter over low heat in small saucepan. Once totally melted, add shallot, garlic, 2 sprigs finely chopped rosemary and 1 quarter of roughly chopped preserved lemon.
- Once shallot and garlic have softened, take butter off heat to cool. If you’re impatient like me, put it in the freezer for one minute or in the refrigerator for about ten minutes.
- While butter is cooling, prepare your chicken.Remove any contents of the inside of the chicken and freeze for stock. Trim any unwanted fat and pat the outside of the chicken dry. Carefully separate the skin over the breast meat and use a sharp knife to cut open a pocket across the chicken.
- Once butter is softened, use your hands or a wooden spoon to put the herbed lemon butter underneath the chicken skin. Do this to both sides of the chicken.
- Season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Stuff the inside with the rest of the preserved lemons (rind and pulp), full rosemary sprigs, onion and garlic. Tie the legs with kitchen twine and use toothpicks to further close up the chicken if desired.
- Layer the entire outside of the chicken with the leftover butter and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place in roasting pan or dutch oven atop roasting rack. If you’re like me and keep forgetting to buy a roasting rack, use the foolproof method described below. Pour wine in bottom of pan. Then, go grab your favorite wine glass and treat-yo-self.
- Place chicken in oven uncovered for approximately 2 hours. Baste chicken every 20 minutes or whenever you remember to. If you think the top of the chicken is browning too quickly, place a piece of tin foil over the top of the bird. When internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, remove the chicken from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes.
- Enjoy you dinner! For additional flavor, mash one of the preserved lemons onto your plate and garnish the chicken and onions with each bite.
Foolproof, cheap-o roasting rack: cut a long piece of tin foil and roll into long rope. Bend to create a spiral shape and place in the bottom of your pan. If you want extra height, place a few chopsticks over your tin foil. Promise yourself to buy a baking rack the next time you’re at Target. Drink your wine and continue to forget.
See you soon.