November 13, 2008

Tuscan Lemon Chicken

Today is the day! Finally, my chicken is thawed! Hooray!!! I am so darn has been a long time coming. My life (at least my dinner plans) have revolved around this momentous occasion for days and it's finally here! Woo-Hoo!

That is enough celebrating...I am tired of using exclamation points.

As you know, this recipe was slotted for earlier this week, but it just wasn't in the cards. Once dinner is over tonight, I am going to finally have room in the fridge again.

This is another one from my Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook. It is literally just a whole grilled chicken with a lemon/rosemary marinade. Simple and yummy. The cooking method is similar to my Rick Bayless grilled whole chicken recipe; where as you cut the back bone out and flatten the chicken on the grill. I think I am going to stick with Rick's method (Ina's is a little more cumbersome) and just use the marinade directions. I am intrigued at what grilled lemons are going to do for the dish, so that will be a little surprise.
After we put the little one to bed tonight, I will use the leftover chicken parts to make chicken stock (which is probably more exciting than the chicken recipe itself). I am not sure what I am going to make as side dishes, but you can probably count on my new favorite salad, a veggie, and a starch of some sort. I love a well-balanced meal.

Tuscan Lemon Chicken

(3 1/2-pound) chicken, flattened
Kosher salt
1/3 cup good olive oil
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, halved

Sprinkle the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt on each side. Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, and 2 teaspoons pepper in a small measuring cup. Place the chicken in a ceramic or glass dish just large enough to hold it flat. Pour the lemon marinade over the chicken, turning it in the dish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Turn the chicken 2 or 3 times while marinating.

When ready to grill, prepare a hot charcoal fire on 1 side of a grill (or turn a gas grill on low heat). Spread most of the coals across half of the grill. Place the chicken, skin side up, on the opposite side of the grill and place the dish you used for marinating on top of the chicken to weight it. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the underside is golden brown. Turn the chicken skin side down, weight again with the dish, and cook for another 12 to 15 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through.
Place the lemon halves on the cool side of the grill, cut side down for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Remove the chicken to a plate or cutting board, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Cut in quarters, sprinkle with salt, and serve with the grilled lemon halves.

The Result:
This chicken was totally worth the wait. It was so, so juicy and flavorful! It earns my highest'-tastic! The marinade was one of the best I have ever had on a chicken. It was not overpoweringly lemony, just fresh and zippy. It tasted like summertime. It was so good!

I used 1/2 teaspoon of dried, chopped rosemary because I could not find fresh rosemary for a decent price this time around. Also, our cooking method varies from the recipe. We just cooked it on the grill for 45 minutes, breast-side up, without flipping. We have a three burner gas grill, so we turn the two outer burners on medium and leave the middle one off. Then, we put the chicken in the middle of the grill (over the off burner) and the chicken cooks perfectly every time. We let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting, too. It is great. I think if you did follow the recipe, it would turn out just as delicious.
We served my yummy new favorite salad, small baked (microwaved) potatoes, and glazed carrots for side dishes. Simple and delicious!!! I will definitely make this chicken again.

The best part about this whole chicken adventure is that my chicken stock is bubbling away on the stove. Sigh. I am a happy girl!

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