Friday, April 10, 2009

Eating Together: Lemon Chicken with Croutons

"This night I hold an old accustomed feast,/ Whereto I have invited many a guest, /Such as I love; and you among the store,/ One more, most welcome, makes my number more."

If you are wondering what to cook for Easter dinner – or for any Spring meal, consider this recipe for Lemon Chicken with Croutons from Ina Garten’s cookbook: Barefoot in Paris. It is absolutely the most tender and fragrantly delicious chicken I’ve ever eaten! I’ve added a few tips to the original recipe.
1 (4-5 pound) roasting chicken -- you may use a Perdue Oven Stuffer, but they require a longer cook time
1 large yellow onion sliced (it is important to get a yellow onion as they are sweeter)
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons, quartered, seeds discarded
6 cups ¾ inch bread cubes made from 1 baguette or plain white loaf
An hour before cooking begins: Take the chicken from the package, discard the giblets, etc. and rinse the chicken inside and out under cold tap water. Put it in a large pot or bowl and cover with cold, fresh water. Add 2 tablespoons of salt. Let the chicken soak for 30 to 60 minutes. This technique rids the chicken of the sometimes “bloody” flavor and makes the meat instead firm and flavorful. You will be amazed at the difference!
Preheat oven to 425 degrees -- notice how hot! A hot oven quickly sears the outside of the chicken and seals in all the juices!
Toss the onion with a little olive oil in a small roasting pan. Place the chicken on top and sprinkle the inside with pepper. Place the quartered lemons inside the chicken cavity. You may have to cram them in, but you can let one or two quarters rest on the bed of onions. Rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast for 1 ¼ or 1 ½ hours or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. You will notice that the onions have browned to a nice dark color. They have carmelized and some may even be a little burnt. This is okay as it creates the flavor in the pan drippings. You will smell the fragrance of the onions and lemons mixing. Let the chicken sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.
While the chicken rests, make the croutons. Don’t skip this part because, honestly, you’ve never tasted anything this delicious. Just wait until you try it! It will change your life! Cut the bread into cubes. Heat a large sauté pan with 3 T olive oil. You will know it is ready when you see waves of heat in the oil. Add the bread cubes and brown them. Keep the heat fairly high and watch the cubes as they burn easily. Your goal is to brown them on as many sides as you can. This requires the addition of more olive oil and it is a hot, intense job well worth the effort! As the bread cubes are cooking, sprinkle on kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. As they brown, move the cubes to a platter. When all the cubes are brown, slice the chicken and place it on top of the croutons. Pour the pan juices over all, including the onions. I usually place the lemons on the side also, just for beauty. Serve extra pan juices in a gravy boat or separate bowl.
The combination of chicken flavoring, roasted onions, the juice from the roasted lemons soaks into the croutons and makes the most amazing crunchy accompaniment to the tender, steaming chicken. Thanks to my sister Stefanie for recommending this recipe. It is now a family favorite. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. I agree that this is the best Chicken recipe in the world. I am always in the mood for it. The bread crumbs are divine.