Chicken, lemons, salt and pepper – that’s all it takes for a delicious and juicy roast chicken. The chicken is in the oven in no time, leaving you time for an espresso or aperitif. But don’t forget: turn the chicken once!Jump to Recipe
An Italian in New York
It was in the 1970s when Marcella Polini-Hazan – more by chance – made Italian cuisine and flair popular in the USA. When she emigrated to New York in 1956 out of love, she had rarely cooked before. Until then, she had been spoiled by the cooking skills of her mother and grandmother, as is usual in Italy. As far as food was concerned, New York was a sobering experience: there were no markets or small shops selling colourful, fresh fruit and vegetables, no fishermen at the harbour unloading branzino, monkfish or tuna fish for customers. There were supermarkets and frozen food.
Luckily a talisman
In order not to “starve”, Marcella got herself a cookbook classic from her homeland: “Il talismano della felicità” by Ada Boni. The memories of her childhood dishes also helped, and her tagliatelle and lasagna soon got better and better. To improve her culinary techniques, she signed up for a cooking course. When this was cancelled at short notice, the other participants asked if she could take over the course – the beginning of success. In 1973, her first cookbook was published: “The Classic Italian Cook Book”.
In the late 1970s, my mother tore the recipe for fried chicken with lemons from an Italian magazine that had a piece on Marcella Hazan. I only keep it for sentimental reasons, as the simple recipe is so easy to remember.
Roast Chicken with Lemon
- 1 chicken approx. 1.8 kg
- black pepper freshly ground
- 2 small lemons organic
Pre-heat the oven to 180° C. Rinse the chicken both inside and outside with cold water. Cut away the fat around the abdominal cavity. Place the chicken on a slightly tilted plate for 10 minutes and to let all the water drain out of it. Pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Season the chicken generously: rub salt and pepper with your hands on the skin and in the abdominal cavity.
Wash the lemons with cold water, dry them and roll them vigorously back and forth on the work surface with the flat of your hand. Prick each lemon several times with a larding needle. Place the lemons in the chicken’s abdominal cavity, and close the opening with the larding needle and kitchen string. Tie the legs together at both joint ends with kitchen string, but do not fasten too tightly. If the chicken skin is undamaged, the chicken will puff up during roasting: the kitchen string should prevent the thighs from spreading apart and tearing the skin.
Place the chicken in a roasting tin with the breast down (without fat). Place the roasting tin in the upper third of the pre-heated oven. After 30 minutes turn the chicken so that the breast is facing upwards. Cook the chicken for another30 minutes. Then increase the oven temperature to 200° C and continue roasting for another 20 minutes until the skin is crispy brown. Reduce cooking time for smaller chickens!
Tip: The meat also tastes very good cold. In this case, keep it moist with some gravy and eat it at room temperature.
Leave the lemons in the chicken until you are ready to carve it. The juice that has accumulated in the abdominal cavity tastes delicious. Pour it over the sliced meat before serving.
My mother wrote the following note on the recipe: “Variation: 2 small organic lemons + 1 sprig of rosemary, 1 peeled clove of garlic + 20 g of butter = chicken stays juicy, is more aromatic”.