Monday, May 4, 2009
FROM THE CONTESSA: TUSCAN LEMON CHICKEN
When you eat chicken as much as we do, you are always on the lookout for a new way to prepare it. Lemon chicken isn't a new concept nor is chicken on the grill. What takes this dish to a whole new level is Ina Garten's inimicable use of herbs and marinade. Having eaten this wonderful dish in The Palm restaurant in East Hampton, the Barefoot Contessa decided to try to replicate it at home. The results were a succulent, fragrant chicken that tastes as delicious the next day in a salad as it does right off the grill. The recipe comes from her Back to Basics cookbook.
Before the chicken goes into the marinade, the backbone and breastbone is removed so that it can be grilled flat under a weight (I used my old cast iron panini press; a brick wrapped in foil would work as well). I'm including directions for this as well. Don't shy away from this step. My knife skills could be better, yet I had no problem with this deboning. I used a combination of chicken shears and chef's knife.
1 (3 1/2 pound) chicken, flattened (see note below)
2 tsp grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup good olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tbs minced fresh rosemary leaves
freshly ground pepper (1 tsp)
1 lemon halved
PREPARE THE CHICKEN
Stand the chicken upright and cut out the backbone with a large kitchen knife or shears. Spread the chicken open on a board with the skin side down. Cut around and remove the breastbone with a boning knife. Sprinkle the chicken all over with the salt.
PREPARE THE MARINADE
Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, and pepper in a glass dish (or, as I do, in a gallon-sized freezer bag). Add the flattened chicken and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
Place the chicken, skin side up, on a preheated grill set to low. Weight it down and cook for 12-15 minutes, until the underside is golden brown. Turn the chicken skin side down, weight it down again, and cook for another 12-15 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through. Place the lemon halves on the grill for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Remove the chicken to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, the cut the chicken into quarters, and sprinkle liberally with salt. Squeeze the grilled lemon over the chicken before serving.
Of course a larger chicken will require additional cooking time. I deboned the chicken this morning and prepared the marinade then as well. It took very little time. I love to use the grill since it cuts down on the pots and pans I'll have to wash.
I think we need to devolop something akin to a batting average for the cookbooks we use. I have to say Ina is batting pretty close to a thousand on this one.