Have you ever been snowed in? It’s a mixed feeling of disappointment and excitement all at once.
“I can’t go anywhere, look at those huge wet flakes! The roads will be impossible.” So much for that appointment… I get to stay home, make a fire and do that writing I wanted to do in between stages of spring cleaning.
But then what happens? You become ravenous. I wasn’t craving cookies. A fire was made and with over a foot of snow on the ground and still coming down, I thought of a warm, aromatic roast chicken—French style with 40 cloves of garlic.
Then my mind jumped straight to the addition of lemon, preserved lemon that I made last winter during citrus time. I spend a lot of time in Morocco, I can hardly make a straight dish these days without adding another cultural twist. It may the be beginning of a new book. If lemon is called for, well then why not preserved? It holds flavor longer.
Right about that time, my daughter called.
She will brave the roads for a few groceries, and is is asking if there is anything I need. I say, chicken—a nice organic one that I can smother with three heads of garlic and smear a generous amount of homemade preserved lemons on top and underneath the skin. She delivered and luckily I had everything else.
1 organic chicken
40 cloves of garlic ( I used close to 30 this time, but will use the proper 40 next time—so delicious! 3-4 heads! )
2 halves of preserved lemons (separate pulp from the skins and set aside)
1 fresh lemon cut in half
several sprigs of fresh thyme
2 Tbsp butter (rubbed on the chicken)
pinch of salt
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (because I don’t use anything else)
1. Pre-heat oven to 475 F. Rinse chicken and pat dry.
2. Prepare garlic by doing this crazy thing. Put your three to four heads of garlic into a metal bowl and cover it with another metal bowl of similar size. Shake the bowls up and down for a minute or so. It sounds crazy crazy, but most of the cloves remain peeled. Do this more than once if you need to, until the cloves peel themselves. It makes peeling the garlic for the most part obsolete. It makes for an easy dish.
3. Place the chicken on a roasting pan and rub the chicken with butter and preserved lemon. Put the peels over the breast area and thighs to keep them moist. Grind some fresh pepper. Cut a fresh lemon in half and stuff both into the cavity with some fresh thyme.
4. Add the peeled garlic around the chicken. Drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil over the chicken and garlic, with a pinch of good salt to the garlic. Add sprigs of fresh thyme if you have it.
5. Put in the oven for 45-60 minutes. Baste occasionally with the bird’s own juices. Use a meat thermometer to make sure chicken is cooked inside. 165F. Take out and let sit for 10 minutes. Baste once more. Slice and serve.
Nice side dishes are: steamed swiss chard. Polenta. Root vegetable mash. Roasted potatoes. Good green salad with radicchio and Easter radishes. Or try Aloo Katliyan—turmeric potatoes!
Even if it’s not snowing, I’m sure this dish will please. The meat tastes like heaven pulled off the bone and used in salads, soup or pita sandwiches.
Author: Peggy Markel
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: Author’s own