This dish is great as a combination of two recipes; the chicken is quite good without the stuffing, and the stuffing makes a nice side dish on its own, as well. Lemon infused olive oil is available at gourmet shops, better grocery stores, and you can find some locally made at various farmer’s markets. Agrumato is an excellent commercial brand and Olio delle Colline is produced in the Santa Cruz area. You can even make something that approaches it on your own by infusing oil with lemon peel, but it is definitely worth the money to have a bottle of this on hand.
1 whole roasting chicken, washed and dried
1 lemon, washed and halved
2 4-inch cinnamon sticks (or 1/8th teaspoon cinnamon powder) preferably Mexican cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
2-3 tablespoons lemon infused olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 recipe of Spinach Pistachio Mushroom Stuffing, still warm or room temperature
Rub chicken with lemon halves inside and out. Squeeze juice into cavity. Sprinkle inside with salt, pepper, half the thyme, and if using cinnamon powder, dust the inside lightly with cinnamon powder. Drizzle some lemon oil into cavity, and stuff the sticks of cinnamon (if that is what you are using) and lemon halves into the bird. Rub the outside of the bird with lemon oil and then salt and pepper liberally.
Place in a sealed container or bag and let sit overnight.
When ready to cook, remove from the refrigerator and remove the lemon halves and cinnamon sticks. Allow the bird to come to room temperature.
Heat the oven to 350°F. Place a rack in lower third of oven.
Stuff the chicken with the spinach, being sure to put some under the skin where the wishbone sits. Loosely tie the ends of the legs together and salt all over. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan (preferably over water to just below the rack. This makes the pan easier to clean, and when the liquid is cool, pour into a tallish container and refrigerate so the fat forms a layer easy to skim off. This yields a wonderful chicken “stock” for later.) and place in the oven. Roast for 1½ to 1¾ hours, or until the chicken is done. To check, use a ready-read thermometer or poke the thigh with a knife and check the juices that run out. They should be clear without any pink, and if you tug on the drumstick it should feel loose and wiggly without resistance.
Remove when done and allow to rest 10 minutes or so. Remove the stiffing the cut and serve the bird.
- If the bird seems almost done, but is not as brown as you would like, simply turn up the heat to 425°F and cook the last 10-15 minutes, taking care not to burn the bird.
- If you wish to make this recipe without the stuffing, simply knock 15-20 minutes off the total time.
YIELD: Serves 4