05 March, 2013

Judith Huxley's Very Lemony Roast Chicken

These roast chickens are "crispy-skinned, moist and pleasantly tart." Mrs Huxley included this recipe in her January selections for a "cozy meal of unexotic, nourishing ... food." It's the best roast chicken I've ever made, and definitely worth the effort.


Very Lemony Roast Chicken ingredients
Makes 8 servings
Main dish
2 (3.5-lb) chickens

Chicken stock
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
Wing tips, necks and giblets of 2 (3.5-pound) chickens, hacked into smallish chunks
1 carrot, scraped and cut into chunks
1 onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 stalk celery, washed and cut into chunks
1 bay leaf
Pinch of ground thyme
Salt and pepper
1 (10.75-oz) can condensed chicken broth
4 cups water

For assembly
2 large lemons
8 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly-sliced
20 cloves garlic, unpeeled (Yes, twenty)
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup or more flavored olive oil (or plain olive oil) for basting the chickens
2 (24- to 30-inch) lengths of standard 16-ply butcher's twine for trussing the chickens
2.5 cups homemade Chicken Stock (see ingredients above) or chicken broth
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or dried rosemary)

Notes:  View Easter Dinner Menu. Locally, look for butcher's twine at your butcher's shop or grocery store.

Getting started
Pull out the lungs and other organs from the cavities of the chickens, along with any pieces of loose fat. Reserve the livers for another use (perhaps Chicken Liver Pâté with Green Peppercorns).

Make chicken stock
Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the necks, giblets, wing tips and vegetables. Brown over High heat, stirring constantly. Add the remaining Chicken Stock ingredients; cover, leaving lid slightly askew, and simmer over Low heat for about 1.5 hours.

Blanch lemons
Meanwhile, use a potato peeler or a zester to remove the yellow part of the peel from the lemons. Blanch the peels for three (3) minutes in a quart of boiling water. Turn out into a colander; refresh under cold water and set aside.

Cut away every bit of the white pith from the lemons; it is bitter and will ruin the flavors of this dish. Then, slice the lemons as thin as possible and remove the seeds.

Assemble chickens
Turn the first chicken breast side up. Run your fingers between the body and the skin. Separate the skin if it adheres, usually at the breastbone, by cutting with kitchen shears (I like these) close to the flesh so as not to pierce the skin. Work the skin loose as far down as the drumsticks. Repeat on second chicken.

Distribute the lemon slices and the sliced garlic under the skins of both chickens at even intervals. Into each cavity, place some salt and pepper and half the blanched lemon peel and 10 unpeeled garlic cloves. Truss the chickens (watch video) and brush them all over with the (flavored or plain) olive oil.

Roast chickens for about 65 minutes 
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Place chickens on a roasting rack in a pan on one of their sides; roast for 15 minutes in the preheated 425ºF oven. Baste with oil and turn them breast down; roast for another 15 minutes. Then, baste again, (this time using oil from the bottom of the pan if there is enough), and turn them on their other sides. After 15 more minutes, baste again and turn them on their backs, breast side up. Then, roast for an additional 20 minutes, this time basting again after 10 minutes.

The chickens are done when a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165ºF. They may need an additional 5 minutes of roasting. Remove the chickens from the oven when they are done.

Remove the trussing strings and scoop out the (20) unpeeled garlic cloves from the cavities, reserving the garlic. Place the chickens on a platter and cover loosely with a foil tent; set aside for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.

Prepare sauce
Meanwhile, remove the rack from the pan; add the (20) unpeeled garlic cloves and the rosemary. Strain the Chicken Stock into the pan (or use 2.5 cups of any chicken broth). Bring to a boil; scrape the brown bits from the pan and cook over High heat for about 5 minutes. Press down on the garlic cloves  and keep stirring. Strain the sauce into another saucepan and degrease. Taste for salt and pepper.

When the chicken is carved (watch video via Gourmet), reheat the sauce and serve separately.

Slightly adapts Judith Huxley, Judith Huxley's Table for eight: Recipes & Menus for Entertaining with the Seasons (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc, 1984), 426 - 428.

You might like
Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken via The Kitchn


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