“If this were a still life its title could be ‘chicken with two lemons.’ That’s all there is in it. No fat to cook with, no basting to do, no stuffing to prepare, no condiments except salt and pepper. After you put the chicken in…. the bird, its two lemons and the oven do all the rest.” Marcella Hazan

a 3-1/2 pound chicken

4 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise

salt (about 1 tablespoon)

freshly ground black pepper

2 lemons

Mashed potatoes with lemon and Parmigiano Reggiano for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 450*.

2. Prepare the chicken for roasting. Remove the giblets from the cavity and either discard them or reserve them for another use. Rinse the chicken inside and out under cold tap water and pat it thoroughly dry with paper towels. Remove any excess fat from the bird, tuck the flap of skin at the neck end under and fold the wings akimbo.

3. Rub the chicken inside and out with the garlic cloves and toss them into the cavity. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and black pepper inside the cavity.

4. Wash the lemons in cold tap water and dry them with a towel. Soften each lemon by placing in on a counter and rolling it back and forth as you put firm downward pressure on it with the palm of your hand. Puncture one lemon in at least 20 places, using a sturdy round toothpick, a trussing needle, a sharp pointed fork or similar implement, and place it in the bird’s cavity. Halve the other lemon and squeeze its juice over the outside of the bird and sprinkle the outside of the bird generously with salt. Cross the drumsticks and tie them together, looping around the “bishop’s nose,” with kitchen twine.

5. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan, breast side up, put it into the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the heat down to 400* and continue to roast the chicken for another 50 minutes, until the skin is crisp and browned and the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a sharp knife (see note below). Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before carving.


  • Cooking time must increase if your bird is larger than 3-1/2 pounds. Calculate between 20 and 25 minutes (depending on the heat of your oven) total cooking time for each pound, or until a meat thermometer registers 170* in the thickest part of the breast (do not touch the bone) and 185* in the thigh meat.
  • For tarragon roasted chicken, add a bunch of fresh tarragon to the cavity before roasting. When the chicken is done, tilt it over the roasting pan and let any remaining roasting juices run into the pan, then transfer it to a carving board to rest. Pour out most of the fat from the roasting pan and put it on top of the stove. Add ½ cup dry white wine and bring the contents of the pan to a boil while scraping the bottom vigorously with a wooden spoon. Stir in a second bunch of tarragon, stemmed, and let simmer 5 minutes. Serve the pan juices over the chicken or pass them separately in a sauce boat.

adapted from Marcella Hazan, The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking


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