Seasoned in the style of ancient Greece, this dish benefits from marinating overnight in the refrigerator. Serve chilled and garnished with lemon wedges.
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin (fresh ground if possible)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons good tasting extra-virgin olive oil
1 large lemon, halved
Two 2 1/2- to 3-pound chickens (preferably raised on organic feed), rinsed and dried
2 lemons, each cut into sixths
1. The day before cooking, combine the pepper, cumin, garlic, honey and oil. Rub the lemon halves over the chickens (inside and out), squeezing the juice as you go (don't discard). Then rub the seasonings over the chickens. Tuck a lemon half into each cavity. Refrigerate chickens overnight, lightly covered.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Set chickens breast-up in a wide shallow pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 15 minutes to the pound, plus 10 minutes (about 45 to 75 minutes). Baste occasionally with pan juices and turn the birds (breast side down) halfway through cooking to evenly brown, then turn the chicken back to finish coloring the breast.
3. When an instant reading thermometer inserted into the breasts reads 170ºF, they’re done. If the skin isn’t brown enough, run them under the broiler for a few minutes, turning the birds to brown evenly.
4. Remove from oven, let rest 10 minutes for juices to settle and cooking to be completed, then chill immediately.
5. To pack for the picnic, cut the chickens up into small serving pieces, wrap, and chill. Keep cold during transport. Serve cool with lemon wedges. Sprinkling their juice onto the meat is the final seasoning.
Recipe by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. Copyright © 2012. From the An Early Summer Picnic menu.
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