Sunday, July 17, 2011

tuscan lemon chicken

in italy they create things on the grill with steak, chicken and pork that are just fantastic.  i have tried to replicate it, lots of different ways.....researching different cook books and online resources.   relatively few ingredients, put together simply ....(olive oil, salt, pepper, sometimes lemon or garlic) the results are mind boggling.  how can it taste so good?  some of it has to be the quality of the meat and the way the olives are grown and pressed,  the dirt...all of it!  when i go to italy i feel good....i was born to eat simple italian food.  (duh, i feel good because i am on vacation!!!! i know)   i saw ina garten make the tuscan lemon chicken on looked really had that italian simplicity...bumped up a bit. ( also this recipe is in the barefoot contessa back to basics cookbook)
it's ok to make extra you will want the leftovers for lunch the next day
 i have made this recipe lots of times...mostly i use it as a guideline....and mess with the usual.  the most troubling aspects of the recipe are finding a chicken the right size and doing that cutting to make the whole chicken flat...but after several disasters that included some pretty raw chicken that had to go back on the grill, i have totally given up on the whole chicken thing.  (these disasters were mostly trying to use a supermarket chicken...which are too big because they are really for roasting...the worst disaster was the time i bought an over stuffer roaster...what was i thinking?? my  attempts to split the chicken were so ridiculous, that brit and i laughed so hard we cried) now i ask the butcher to split the whole breasts in half and buy as many as i need.  this works very well as long as they are not huge.

recipe after the jump

two whole chicken breasts on the bone with skin on, split by the butcher
1/3 cup of good italian olive oil
the zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 cloves of garlic,  chopped
kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon cut in half (save to grill with the chicken)

unwrap and dry off the chicken and sprinkle with kosher salt.   in a baking dish mix up the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic and black pepper and add the chicken turning over a few times to coat. cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours (ina says 4hours to overnite... it doesn't need that long but you could put it together before you leave for work in the morning and come home afterwork and throw it on the grill. )

take the chicken out of the fridge...get the grill on....i use the gas grill on medium...ina gives charcoal directions in her recipe.  put the chicken on bone side down, grouped close together so you can put your casserole dish on top of the chicken and i put two bricks in the casserole dish to weight it down.  (tip, cover the bottom of your casserole dish with foil to prevent a scorchy mess).  i cooked it on this side for 15 minutes...and came back outside armed with big gloves to pick up the bricks, then the casserole dish and flip the chicken over then put the dish and the bricks back on.  keep an eye on the grill to make sure there are no big flare ups, i do put the cover down on the cooks evenly.  during the last 10 min cut the reserved lemon in half and put it cut side down on the grill.  when the chicken is done take it off the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes.  sprinkle with some kosher salt and at the last minute...squeeze the grilled lemon over the chicken.......this seals the deal. awesome!

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