It was a real comfort food dinner for this crazy cold weather we're having here on Long Island! Roasted Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, and I tried a new side from this month's Food and Wine magazine, Broccolini with Crispy Lemon Crumbs. Of course I can only find broccolini in the grocery store when I have no intention of buying it. So we had broccoli instead. This was a keeper. Loved it.and I steamed it in the microwave first. Who can wait for water to boil?
Doesn't get any easier or any simpler than a roasted chicken. Lots of techniques out there, hi heat, low heat, basting, no basting. This one if you follow the directions, it says will puff up and make a gorgeous presentation. Hey, my picky family doesn't give a hoot if it looks gorgeous and presentable, they care if it tastes good. I care that I didn't burn the house down attempting a good dinner! Lots of directions in this one, turn the heat up, turn the heat down, stand up, sit down, blah blah blah, I adapted it to my style of cooking... little or no effort!
The original recipe from Marcella Hazan is pretty straightforward, but a little wordy for me, but it comes out fantastic! A very moist chicken with a very crispy skin. It doesn't take much effort. My kids couldn't care less if the skin puffs up like a balloon, they just want to eat! My lazy way, the one I ended up with after I put the chicken on the wrong side, forgot to turn the chicken, and didn't bother to tie it's legs, also comes out very moist and delicious. My way takes even less effort. None. So just don't go do something else and forget the bird in the oven! The smoke alarm timer will remind you!
My way is what my son, years ago, called "Lemon up the butt chicken." All I ended up doing was just pushing the lemons up the chicken's butt, some salt, pepper, garlic and a shallot, and throwing it in a preheated 350 degree oven, breast side up for a few hours, depending on the size of the bird. I don't even mind the pop-up thermometer but big deal because if you forget to check, that baby could have popped a half hour ago :) We don't really need the drama of a puffy chicken, the best I can do with presentation is a Revol Chicken Roaster! and when the kids get big they want to eat and move on. Unless, of course, dessert is stupendous. It wasn't, so mine left.
Lemon Up The Butt Chicken
3- to 4-pound roasting chicken
fresh ground black pepper
2 small lemons
2 to 3 cloves garlic (optional)
1-2 shallots (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water. Pat dry. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roll the lemon on the counter to soften it and then poke some holes in it with a fork or knife. Stuff the cavity with the garlic, shallots and the lemons. Place breast side up in a roasting pan or dish, and not a huge one, the chicken should fit nicely in the pan. Roast the chicken until the juices run clear.
Roast Chicken with Lemons
Source: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
3- to 4-pound chicken
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
2 small lemons
2 to 3 cloves garlic (optional)
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, a sharp-pointed fork, or similar implement.
Place both lemons and garlic in the 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. 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.
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. When turning it, try not to puncture the skin. If kept intact, the chicken will swell like a balloon, which makes for an arresting presentation at the table later. Do not worry too much about it, however, because even if it fails to swell, the flavor will not be affected.
Cook for another 30 to 35 minutes, then turn the oven thermostat 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.
Whether your bird has puffed up or not, bring it to the table whole and leave the lemons inside until it is carved and opened. The juices that run out are perfectly delicious. Be sure to spoon them over the chicken slices. The lemons will have shriveled up, but they still contain some juice; do not squeeze them, they may squirt.
This is all there is to it, simple roast chicken. No fat to cook with, no basting to do, no stuffing to prepare, no condiments except for salt and pepper. After you put the chicken in the oven you turn it just once. The bird, its two lemons, and the oven do all the rest.
Broccolini with Lemon Crumbs
Source: Food & Wine, January 2010
2 slices of white bread, torn
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 bunches Broccolini (8 ounces each), ends trimmed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, very finely chopped
Lemon wedges, for serving
In a food processor, pulse the white bread until large crumbs form. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the bread crumbs and cook them over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden. Remove from the heat. Stir in the crushed red pepper and lemon zest and season with salt. Transfer the crumbs to a plate to cool. Wipe out the skillet.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Broccolini and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well, shaking off the excess water; pat dry.
In the large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the Broccolini, season lightly with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the Broccolini is lightly browned in spots, about 4 minutes. Transfer the Broccolini to a serving platter and sprinkle the lemony bread crumbs on top. Serve right away with lemon wedges.
The lemon crumbs can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.