Lemon chicken is a well known dish, but I doubt any two recipes are exactly the same. My Nan’s would vary according to the season: roasted potatoes and carrots thru winter, green beans and zucchini during spring, whatever looked best at the store. I doubt she even had to shop really, Nan had a host of employees at each and every local grocery store who knew when she came in and what she liked to buy. A few loyal employees even showed up to pay respects at her wake, impressive no? Again, this little 5 foot, mumu wearing Italian grandmother brought out the best in all those she knew and enjoyed nothing more than cooking for them all (she had those same grocery store employees over for dinner several times, ha).
Back to the recipe. Lemon chicken was one of Nan’s go-to meals, especially when myself or my brothers would drop in unexpectedly, back from school or some far-off trip and having withdrawals after a lapse of her cooking. It’s cheap, simple, and requires more patience than actual technique, tho I’m sure she would argue otherwise.
Nan’s Lemon Chicken (Pollo Arrosto al Limone)
10 Chicken Legs (large drumsticks or a mix of drumsticks and thighs, bone in)
4 Small Red Potatoes, cut in quarters
2 Large Carrots, cut into similar size than potato
2 Small-Medium Lemons (thoroughly washed)
4-5 Garlic Cloves, Crushed with Skin On
2-3 Sprigs Rosemary
Splash of White Wine
Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil (2 tbs or so)
P.S. I substituted fresh rosemary for the thyme my Nan calls for since I had it but you could use either.
In a large glass baking dish mix the chicken, potatoes, carrot, rosemary, garlic, olive oil, and plenty of salt and pepper. Cut the Lemons in half and juice directly over the pan making sure each piece of chicken is dressed, place the lemons in the dish when done juicing. Lastly, splash a little white wine over each piece of chicken as well. Cover loosely with foil and bake in a 325 degree oven for 2 hours. After 2 hours, remove foil, and broil until everything is golden brown.
The chicken falls off the bone like a fat kid off a unicycle…ouch. There will be plenty of “sauce” left on the bottom of the baking dish so be sure to have some crusty bread ready to sop it all up. The potatoes and carrots are soft and buttery, a perfect counterpart to the zingy sauce and crunchy skin. Brava Nan!
And seeing as how it’s St. Patty’s, here’s an unbelievable recipe for Irish Soda Bread straight off the island (enter Irish guy from Braveheart, “it’s myyy island…”). It’s not one of Nan’s recipes but she would always request a loaf from Megs when St. Patty’s rolled around. Shite, I wish I had a brogue…
Irish Soda Bread
2 Cups AP Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Tsp. Salt
1/4 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 Cup Buttermilk
1/2 Cup Raisins
Sift the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda together onto a wooden cutting board and create a well like you were going to make pasta dough.
Pour a little buttermilk into the middle of the well and begin to mix the dry ingredients into the wet, add the raisins and remaining buttermilk as you go until the dough begins to form.
Knead the dough ever so gently only to create a small loaf, coat in flour, and place on a floured baking tray. Cut a cross about 1/2 inch deep in the top and bake on 450 degrees for 25-40 minutes or until golden brown.
This is killer in the morning with a light toasting and shmear of good butter, your Irish eye’s be smiling with this one.