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Marcella's chicken with 2 lemons -- my experience

  • l

After the interesting thread a couple of weeks ago concerning Marcella Hazan's ESSENTIALS, I decided last night to follow her recipe for "Chicken with two lemons." I think I did everything to the letter, and the result was fragrant, tender, and delicious. But things did not go as she described. The bird stuck to the bottom of the Calphalon roaster -- so much for her suggestion to try not to puncture the skin when turning. The bird did not swell up. The lemons did not shrivel or give up all, or even most, of their juice. (In fact, I punctured them and squeezed the juice out.) I cannot figure out what I did wrong. Next time I'd be inclined to spray a little olive oil where the bird will make contact with the pan. This "natural" chicken was cleaned so that it was open from end to end. I closed both ends, though, with skewers and string. It's a lovely, simple recipe, and I will do this again; so I would appreciate the benefit of others' experience. It was clear in the previous thread that many Chowhounds really know this book well.

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  1. I did this recently in a dry cast iron frying pan. Followed all the directions. It turned out beautifully, even puffed up a little. On my recommendation, my daughter used this method in a Le Crueset pan for a company dinner. Most of the backs of the chickens stuck to the pan. Her's were expensive chickens. I was so disappointed for her. I have no idea why this happened. And truly my chicken was one of the most delicious I've roasted, and I've been cooking a LONG time!

    I'll be interested to see what helpful replies you may get, because this sure isn't!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Pat Hammond
      k
      King of Northern Blvd.

      I made this a couple of times...Each time turned out different..Once I made it in a Le Creuset and I lost all my breast skin!!!!.....What a horror...It still tasted good but what was I supposed to snack on while it rested...haha...I now use a rack....

      1. re: Pat Hammond

        One of my favorites also, I made it again Saturday night. However, I no longer follow the recipe's directive to flip the bird. I cook it on its back the whole time. I have never had a bird "puff" despite my attempts at surgical sewing. I roll my lemons on the counter until soft and puncture them 15-20 times with the tip of my (shortest) deep oil thermometer. The lemons have never shriveled.

      2. I made it last weekend and it was successful. I did place the chicken on a roasting rack that I had sprayed with non-stick. My chicken did puff up but the puff was defeated because it it split the skin. Another problem was the size of the lemons thier sweling may have contributed to the skin split. It was good chicken for grocery store chicken.

        1. Was the Calphalon the standard anodized aluminum one? If so, that would explain the sticking. And make sure the bird is immaculately dry. Very. Dry.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Karl S.

            Yes, the standard anodized aluminum -- probably 10 or 12 years old. Why do you say that explains it? I'd like to know more, and there seems to be interest from others. Marcella says emphatically there is no need for oil or fat; it is "self-basting."

            1. re: Lew P.

              I found that Calphalon surface was probe to sticking, that's all.

          2. I've made this about a dozen times, and each time had the exact experience of the original poster. Maybe my data will aid the efforts. Results were lovely, delicious, but no puff, some stick, and decidedly un-shriveled lemon. I let it dry for the specified time & use tons of paper towels. Usually use a somewhat high sided, heavy-bottomed aluminum pan, sew up all orifices (orifi?). Tried extra piercings of the lemons, no diff. Tried using one lemon, thinking that perhaps lemons had grown larger since the recipe was written, and the lemons needed more room in the cavity (she specifies smallish lemons) - no diff. Have convection, so I do 300 convect rather than 350.

            I'll be interested in the responses - thanks for bringing this up. BTW, I don't know why MH advises against squeezing the lemon(s) afterwards. Just do it with tongs.

            1. I press and roll the lemons on the counter before I pierce them (about 20 pierces each) and place them into the chicken. I also truss the chicken and place it on a teflon-coated rack inside my roasting pan. This helps to keep it from sticking when I turn it.