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ROAST CHICKEN AND PRESERVED LEMONS

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Preserved lemons have been on my radar for a while and I had a feeling I would love it. I first tried it at a friend’s house who brought out a jar to accompany our Indian take out dinner. And as I suspected, I loved its salty, lemony-umami blast of flavor on the warming spicy Indian flavors.

Tonight as I was contemplating dinner, I opened my fridge and was greeted by the whole chicken and the jar of preserved lemons that I snatched up when I spotted them at Whole Foods. And lightbulb, lemons are a classic ingredient in a roast chicken so why not the preserved kind?

Roast chicken is usually a meal reserved for weekends but I was motivated and eager to try the combination. Plus, I wasn’t sure this bird was going to last another day. Surprisingly making roast chicken on a Tuesday night is really not that bad in terms of the prep work,  the important ingredient of time is what might make it a bit intimating for a week night. So, while my kids ‘Netflix and chilled’, I got started. No time to lose before the kids unleash their hanger on me.

I went to my ultimate go-to Thomas Keller’s roasted chicken over vegetable recipe from Ad Hoc at Home Have you tried it? It’s the best for crispy salty skin and juicy meat. It has never failed me. Then I looked up simple recipes using preserved lemon.

Roast chicken is something that can be personalized and the combinations are endless. So feel free to tweak this with spices and flavors that you like. I added some cumin and used vegetables that I already had on hand in the kitchen – which did not include rutabagas, fresh thyme, or leeks like the classic recipe called for! But no worry it turned out amazing!

Notes:

  • I like to make bone broth after making roast chicken. But in reality that next step of doing more work in the kitchen after cooking dinner doesn’t always happen. My new strategy to actually get it done, is to take out the slow cooker before I start cooking so that it’s ready to go. I put the carcass into the slow cooker after removing all the meat and fill with water so that its level with the carcass.  Adding some apple cider vinegar helps to draw out the good nutrients.
  • Pureed preserved lemon is a really great condiment to have around. I cut the lemons into quarters, removed the seeds and threw them (flesh and rind) into my Vitamix to make a puree. I put some puree out on the table as a condiment with the roast chicken for extra oomph.
  • I’d love to try making preserved lemon one day. Here’s some inspiration and 2 ways to go about it.

Recipe after the jump.

Roast Chicken with Roasted Vegetables and Preserved Lemons adapted from Ad Hoc at Home and New York Times Cooking

INGREDIENTS (serves about 4)

  • 1 four to four and a half pound chicken
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin 
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 large leeks
  • 3 tennis ball size rutabagas
  • 2 tennis ball sized turnips
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1 small yellow onion, trimmed, leaving root end intact, and cut into quarters
  • 8 small (golf ball sized) red skinned potatoes
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    fresh thyme
  • 2 preserved lemons

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it comes to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 475℉.
  3. Remove the neck and innards if they are still in the cavity of the chicken. Using a paring knife, cut out the wishbone from the chicken. (This will make it easier to carve the chicken.) Generously season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper, add 3 of the garlic cloves and 5 sprigs of thyme, and massage the inside of the bird to infuse it with the flavors.
  4. Cut the preserved lemons into quarters and remove the rinds from the flesh, reserving both. Create a pocket between the skin and meat of each chicken breast. Slide pieces of the lemon rind, pith side down, into each pocket, two pieces per breast. Then rub the chickens with the remaining lemon flesh. Sprinkle the ground cumin over the birds and season with the salt and pepper.
  5. Truss the chicken (see opposite).
  6. Cut off the dark green leaves from the top of the leeks. Trim off and discard any darkened outer layers. Trim the root ends, cutting around them on a 45-degree angle. Slit the leeks lengthwise almost in half, starting 1/2 inch above the root ends. Rinse the leeks well under warm water.
  7. Cut off both ends of the rutabagas. Stand the rutabagas on end and cut away the skin, working from top to bottom and removing any tough outer layers. Cut into 3/4-inch wedges. Repeat with the turnips, cutting the wedges to match the size of the rutabagas.
  8. Combine all the vegetables and the remaining garlic cloves and thyme sprig in a large bowl. Toss with 1/2 cup of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables in a large cast-iron skillet or a roasting pan.
  9. Make a nest in the center of the vegetables and nestle the chicken in it. Cut the butter into 4 or 5 pieces and place over the chicken breast.
  10. Put the chicken in the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400℉ and roast for an additional 45 minutes, or until the temperature registers 160℉ in the meatiest portions of the bird-the thighs, and under the breast where the thigh meets the breast-and the juices run clear. If necessary, return the bird to the oven for more roasting; heck it every 5 minutes.
  11. Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let rest for 20 minutes. Just before serving, set the pan of vegetables over medium heat and reheat the vegetables, turning them and glazing them with the pan juices.

 

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