A Slight Tweak on Marcella Hazan’s Roasted Chicken with 2 Lemons

March 24, 2009 · 7 comments


I know, I know. This recipe has been talked about, blogged about, maybe even sung about and many of you may be tired of hearing about it. Well, I have found a way to make Marcella Hazan’s chicken just a tad better. That’s right, I said it – her succulent, incredibly tasty roasted chicken can be even better!

It’s not so much the chicken that I changed, but what I cooked with it. A couple of weeks ago, Melissa Clark, food writer for the NYTimes, wrote about bread soaked in the pan drippings of a roasted chicken. Ever since I read her article, I could not get the idea out of my head. Marcella’s chicken, with Melissa’s bread. Perfection.

It’s pretty simple. Place thick slices of bread under the chicken before you put it in the oven, and it all cooks together. Melissa suggested brushing the bread with olive oil, salt and pepper, but I just left them plain. She used ciabatta bread, but I chose a sourdough baguette, that I sliced on the diagonal. I thought the crust on the baguette would stand up to all the delectable juices better than the softer ciabatta. The result? Crunchy in some places, soft in others, and delicious everywhere. I think I ate more bread than chicken.

Serve this with some bright vegetables to add some color to the poultry and bread. Some steamed broccoli drizzled with olive oil and crushed red pepper would be ideal.

Ingredients for A Slight Tweak on Marcella Hazan’s Roasted Chicken with 2 Lemons

1 3 or 4 pound Organic Chicken
2 small lemons
salt and pepper
1 sourdough baguette

First the Chicken
Preheat the oven to 350F

Wash the chicken inside and out, and dry thoroughly with a cloth. Make sure the entire chicken is dry. Cut off any hanging pieces of fat. Smother the chicken with salt and freshly ground pepper, both inside and out. I’m not sure why anyone would use the powered stuff that comes in that little white tin – but if you are one of those people, make an exception and use the real thing for this.

Wash the lemons and soften them by rolling them on the countertop with your palm. Poke about 20 holes in each lemon using a wooden skewer, toothpick, or fork. Stick them in the cavity of the chicken, and close the opening with a toothpick. It doesn’t have to be airtight – just fastened.

Using kitchen twine, tie a knot on one leg and bring the string around to the other, so the wings stay in place, but the legs stay in their natural position.

Next the Bread
Slice the bread rather thick, on the diagonal. Place in a single layer on the bottom of a roasting dish, and put the chicken on top. That’s it.

Finally, in the Oven
Place the roasting dish in the top third of your oven, and cook breast-side down for 30-35 minutes.
Gently flip the chicken and cook breast-side up for another 30 minutes. Increase the temperature to 400F, and cook for an additional 20 minutes.


Carve and Serve
After you show off your beautiful chicken to your guests, it’s time to carve. First though, remove the golden slices of juicy bread, and put them in your serving bowl. There are many ways to carve a chicken, and you have to find a technique that works for you. Try Saveur Magazine’s version, or Fine Cooking’s style, or maybe even an instructional video on YouTube.

However you decide to slice it up, don’t forget to top it with juices from the pan, and serve with the bread and some steamed greens on the side.

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Local Lemons
July 12, 2009 at 5:58 pm

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

The Food Hunter April 17, 2009 at 2:08 pm

I like that bread idea. your chicken looks great!


roofing November 10, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I completely agree here,and I will be looking forward to your future updates.


rach July 14, 2009 at 8:31 am

I love MH’s chicken with lemons and make it often, this looks like the next delicious step


Xue July 17, 2009 at 6:37 am

Made this for a dinner party last night… It was awesome! Thanks for the recipe! The only downer was that I had used a too-large baking pan, so the pieces of bread that weren’t directly under the chicken got burnt.


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