One of my favorite recipes

One of my favorite cookbooks is the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. It’s exactly what I like in a cookbook: Well thought-out notes about technique and history. It tells you why you should sauté the onions before putting in the tomatoes, or why milk is essential in making the perfect bolognese.

One of my favorite recipes from Marcella’s bible of a book is the roast chicken with two lemons.

Its ingredient list is beautiful in its simplicity:

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Wash lemons and set aside to dry.
  2. Rinse entire chicken in cold water, taking care to remove giblets first. Cut off all the strange hanging fat. Set chicken on a tilted plate and let air dry for 10 minutes. Dry thoroughly but gently with paper towels.
  3. Season the bird with lots of salt and pepper, both inside and out.
  4. Using light pressure, roll the lemons across a board with your hands. (This will soften them up.) Prick each of them about 20 times with a toothpick. Stuff lemons in the chicken’s cavity.
  5. Using toothpicks or trussing string, close the cavity opening as best you can. (Don’t make it airtight, or the chicken could pop.) Tie the chicken’s legs together at the ends, but not tightly. They should remain in their natural place.
  6. Place chicken breast-side down into a large (ungreased) roasting pan. Roast in the upper third of the oven for about 30 minutes. Turn chicken over, breast side up.
  7. Roast chicken for another 30 minutes, then turn heat up to 400°F and roast for 20 minutes longer. According to Marcella, “figure about 20 or 25 Calculate between 20 and 25 minutes total cooking time for each pound” after this.
  8. Remove bird from oven and let sit 5 or 10 minutes for juices to redistribute. Carve and serve, making sure you drizzle the juice at the bottom of the pan over the chicken. It will knock your socks off.

What emerges from the oven is something to truly behold, it is the best chicken I’ve ever eaten, anywhere.