Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Fool Proof" Lemon Chicken

This is the recipes I give to inexperienced cooks who are panicking about having to prepare food for a large number of people. If you follow the directions, it is fool proof!

I tend to make Lemon Chicken as a “back up’. During the summer we often entertain large groups of people Sometimes, I am not sure of exactly how many people are coming (I could be off by 5 or  maybe 10), so I find I might need to have extra food.  Also I am not sure of the culinary preferences of all of my guests and might find that I invited a “fish hater”, a “pork decliner” or a couple of “red meat refusers”.   So as a back up, I roast up a batch of Lemon Chicken in the oven and add it to the buffet table as an additional or alternative menu item.  

This recipe produces a chicken that is never dry. It is always moist and tasty but not spicy. It pleases the unadventurous while not looked upon too askance by the “foodies”. It can be eaten hot or at room temperature. Both the Lemon Chicken and the accompanying Roasted Vegetable dish can be cooked in the oven while everyone else is focused on what is happening on the grill.  These dishes have saved me from many potential disasters!

Lemon Chicken

Good quality organic, free range Chicken Pieces (D’Artagnan, Murray’s or Bell & Evans)
Lemon Juice (in the bottle is fine)
Peanut Oil
Salt & Pepper

Quantities are not important but spacing is! Make sure that you fill up the roasting pan with just enough chicken to make one row of pieces that do not touch each other and add just enough liquid to cover most of the chicken while marinating.

Prepare liquid marinade: ½ lemon juice and ½ peanut oil in a roasting pan. (It should come up about half way.) Salt & pepper the chicken pieces and place them in the marinade in the roasting pan. Turn them over so that all sides are basted with liquid and then leave skin side down. Marinate for at least 45 minutes or up to 4 hours.  Preheat oven to 350 F.

Pour out and discard most of the marinade (leaving the lower ¼ of each chicken piece to cook in the marinade). Turn them right side up so that skin side is showing. Only the parts of the chicken that is out of the marinade will brown. Place in oven and roast until the chicken is golden brown (usually 45-60 minutes). When you take the chicken out of the pan, drain on paper towel and place on serving platter with lemon slices and parsley sprigs as a garnish.

Oven Roasted Vegetables

The quantities are not important – neither are proportions.  You can have more than one layer, but make sure that each piece has been coated with the olive oil and seasoning.

An Assortment of Small New Potatoes (well washed and patted dry).
Sweet Potatoes or Yams (washed, peeled and cut into chunks a bit larger than the new potatoes). 
Pearl Onions  (peeled)
Baby Carrots  (washed)
Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a roasting pan with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place the potatoes, onions and carrots in the pan, rolling them until they are coated with the oil and seasoning. If needed add olive oil, salt, and pepper to top layer. Roast until golden brown and all cooked through. Timing will vary with quantities. – one layer will take 45 – 60 minutes, larger quantities may take as long as two hours.

Gerard’s Wine Suggestion
“I recommend a joyful wine full of spirit from Côtes de Provence - Château Montaud Rosé 2010.   The color is a lovely peachy-orange and it shows scents of ripe melons, citrus and ripe strawberries. The flavors are light and fruity with brisk acidity.  It is a nice “picnic wine” with a little Grenache spice and smoothness and priced under $10 at both Village Wine in Millbrook and Arlington Wine & Spirit in Pleasant Valley”.

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