Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sticky Lemon Chicken


There's the old cliche about never running out of chicken recipes, but honestly, sometimes it feels like I can't look at another chicken again. Yet, I continue to buy this most versatile of birds.

Anyway, I grabbed this bird on my way home as I'm known to do. I've gotten to the point where I can only buy meat from a butcher. There's nothing quite like having a conversation with a man who is wearing a blood-stained apron. I really think in another life, I should have been a butcher. It truly fascinates me. Meat is so much better when it has NOT been wrapped in plastic. Plain brown, dry and neat as a pin, butcher paper wraps around meat very smartly and results in something that cooks better, as this chicken did.  Butcher paper has been around for ages and it is both sound and sensible. I simply don't know why all meat is not presented this way.

On another note, I also have been having trouble with my boning knife. This is the type with a very sturdy blade that is shaped somewhat more pointedly than a standard chef's knife. I have used it in the past to good effect, but the steel from which it is made isn't the same as my other knives. No amount of coaxing through my sharpener or on my steel can get the blade to where I want it. So, I stopped by a Chinatown restaurant supply and bought one of those curved, flexible boning knives with the plastic handle. These are the knives I see the butchers using. The Victorinox brand cost about twenty-five bucks. I got it home and now I know why the butchers use these: it literally glided through the chicken flesh like it was butter. What a difference a sharp knife makes! Anyway, though I usually prefer to roast a chicken whole or butterfly if for the grill, the new knife gave me an excuse to completely break the bird down; including wishbone removal and the separation of all three wing articulations. Sheer bliss. As for the recipe itself; a last minute slap dash of what ever else I had on hand to go with the chicken. While the process was simple, the results were sublime.

Sticky Lemon Chicken

1 whole chicken, portioned to your liking
2 lemons
3 bay leaves
3 cloves of garlic (skin on)
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 or 2 glugs of olive oil
Salt and pepper

Toss all your chicken parts in an appropriately sized roasting tin with the olive oil. Cut the lemon into chunky wedges - say about four to six wedges per lemon and then toss the lemons and all the other ingredients into the pan and distribute evenly around the chicken. Don't squeeze the lemon wedges - the roasting action will allow the juices to naturally release and caramelize in the pan. Put into a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Then move the chicken around so that the skins are mostly pointing up and put under a broiler for a further five minutes to crisp up the skin and char the lemons a wee bit. The best way to serve this is to actually pile it all on top of some crispy croutons. The lemony pan drippings get absorbed and distributed in the most delightful way. Moreover, this saves me from dirtying a pot for potatoes. I happened to have had leftover croutons from my leek soup the other day - so bully for me. 

Sticky, sweet and sour lemony chicken piled on crunchy bread washed down with a little too much cold white wine. Could you really ask for anything more?

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