March 29, 2010

March 29 THE MONDAY MENU: Roasted Lemon Pepper Chicken

Chicken is a blank canvas that yearns to be painted with flavor. On a warm spring evening, few flavors brighten the culinary pallet quite like the crisp refreshing taste of lemon.

But contrary to what you might think, the lemon in this dish is not the show stopper. The "wow" factor in this dish, in my opinion, is the fresh peppercorns. So, why does the lemon receive top billing, you ask? The answer is, because without the lemon no one would appreciate the pepper.

Consider some of history's iconic duos. What would Batman be without Robin? Or Butch Cassidy without the Sundance Kid? And where in the world would Bert be if he did not have Ernie? Without lemon's acidity the rich savory flavor of the pepper would be harsh, and perhaps for some people even overwhelming. Lemon provides a necessary contrast to the savory ingredients in this dish and brings together all the colorful flavors on our canvas.

Try this simple, easy to make chicken dish. I am confident that you will agree that lemon and pepper will go down in history as a duo as iconic as Laverne and Shirley, Fred and Barney, or even Calvin and Hobbes.

Conversation starter: What iconic duo has most influenced your life?

Roasted Lemon Pepper Chicken

1 - 3-4 lb whole chicken


Juice from 3 large lemons
1/2 cup Olive oil
1/4 cup peppercorns
3 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbs. Kosher salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
3 Cups hot water
2 large lemons (to be used in when roasting)

Combine ingredients for marinade and mix well ensuring that salt and brown sugar dissolve completely. Chill for approximately one hour or until cold.

Using a sharp knife or sharp cooking shears remove the backbone from the chicken by cutting lengthwise along both sides. Pull the two halves of the chicken open and smash flat with the heel of your palm to crack the breastbone. Finish spitting the two of the chicken. Using two resealable gallon size freezer bags place one half of the chicken in each bag and fill with half of the marinade. Purge all excess air from each back and refrigerate overnight.

To cook, place oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Remove chicken from marinade, pat dry and place in a medium to large roasting pan.. Lightly salt and pepper both halves using fresh cracked black peppercorns. Squeeze the juice from the two large lemons evenly over the chicken.

Cover chicken with foil and bake at 500 degree for 25 minutes.After 25 minutes remove foil and reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Bake uncovered for an additional fifteen minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Allow chicken to rest for five to ten minutes before cutting and serving. Serve over rice.

Variations: Add 1 tablespoon garlic, 1 tablespoon fresh basil, and/or 1 teaspoon before roasting. Or, top with marinara sauce and serve serve over pasta.


kitchen girl said...

I am just wondering if this could go on the q & for how long?

Chef Tim said...

KG, my apologies for not seeing your comment. I am afraid I do not understand what you are asking.


Chef Tim said...

KG, My wife saw your comment and clued me in on what you were asking. Again, my apologies.

The answer to your question is a resounding yes! In fact, I prefer to cook this dish on the an open flame.

If you cook this on the q place the chicken on the grill, first with the skin side down until the skin is slightly crisp - up to three to five minutes max. After the chicken has been browned, reduce your heat and turn it over. Let it cook on this low heat for around a half an hour.

One trick to really great chicken is to place one half of the bird onto the other and let the pieces self baste. Rotate the pieces every ten minutes. Another thing you can do is place a can of water, in the grill with the chicken to help keep it moist. If you are using charcoal or wood, keep your vents only slightly open. An off set fire is best.

To make sure the chicken is thoroughly cooked check the temperature of at the thigh. 160 degrees F is considered done, but I prefer to pull my bird off the fire at 140-150 degrees, rap it in tin foil and let it rest for ten minutes. And as always you can cut into the thigh and check. If the meat is pink or if there is still blood at the bone, give it a few more minutes. You can never rush great chicken.

If you are making a this chicken in large amounts, use an ice cooler lined with tin foil to hold the cooked chicken for up to an hour. Slices of lemon and fresh crushed peppercorns can be added to the layers of chicken is you take it off the fire to enhance the flavor.

For an even more amazing experience, add 1/4 cup bourbon to the marinade.


Anonymous said...

Wow, thanks for the helpful q tips Tim! And thanks to your wife too--a very smart cookie :))