Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tuscan Roasted Chicken

Imagine the aroma of garlic, rosemary, sage, white wine, olive oil, and a little pancetta (Italian bacon) perfuming your kitchen on a cool fall afternoon.

This is another lovely recipe from Sarah Fioroni's "A Family Farm in Tuscany".  I've made no secret about the fact that I am hosting a world-wide blogging tour for Sarah's book next week.  I've also made no secret that my sweet mama published this book.  GO, SMALL FAMILY BUSINESSES, GO!  I am so proud to be part of a family who cherishes food and beauty and the story of people like mine does.  

Sarah's book has over 50 recipes from her family's organic farm which is nestled in the fertile Italian hills.  The farm is nearly self-sustaining, producing their own meats, wine, vegetables, and even saffron.

 Photo credit: Oriano Stefan

Sarah (pronounced "SAW-rah") unfolds the story of her family's hard work and dedication to the land they originally worked as sharecroppers after World War II.  She dedicates the book to her parents and all members of the Fioroni family who have spent their lives bent over the earth, working and making unbelievable sacrifices for their children.

It's a lovely read coupled with gorgeous photography that will transport you to the rolling hills of Tuscany where Amico, Sarah's father, jokes that "even the hens need brakes." 

I don't have a mortar-and-pestle, but I used this little set up to smash garlic cloves into a paste.

This summer, a vendor at my local farmer's market was selling organic whole chickens.  I purchased several and froze them.  The ole' girl pictured in these photos was recently awakened from her frozen please excuse the condition of her skin.  Arctic climates are not kind to the skin of birds (or people)! 
Following Sarah's instructions, I stuffed the cavity with bacon (I was out of pancetta), rosemary, sage, and garlic paste.  Reaching for my cooking twine to tie the chicken's legs together, I was shocked to find my recently-purchased spool completely empty.  Upon interrogation, it seems that two certain little boys used about 8 feet of my twine to construct a parachute with which to jump from Timothy's top bunk.  This would be the life of a boy mom. 

I love this trick.  Cut small slits in the skin of the chicken and then insert a mixture of salt, herbs, and garlic paste into each slit. 

Spread remaining garlic paste over the breast of the chicken and season with salt and pepper.  (I also scattered some remaining herbs here.)  Allow the chicken to "rest" at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Then drizzle olive oil over the chicken and pour white wine into the baking dish.  Roast at 400 degrees for about an hour and a half, turning the chicken onto its back after 20 minutes of roasting and then flipping it again after another 40 minutes.

The result:  juicy, tender, flavorful perfection.  

I really, really hope you will make this.  If you have never dared to roast a whole chicken, let this be the first recipe you try.   It's very easy and, served with roasted red potatoes, steamed broccoli, and crusty French bread (slathered with soft butter, of course), makes an incredibly satisfying and comforting meal.

Here's the printable recipe.

Roasted Chicken Poggio Alloro
Serves 8

1 whole chicken, about 5 pounds
3 paper-thin slices pancetta 
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh sage
8 large garlic cloves, ground to a paste using a mortar and pestle
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc or vernaccia
3 tablespoons olive oil

Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with olive oil and set aside.  Rinse the chicken inside and out under cold running water.  Drain well and pat dry using absorbent paper towels.

Insert the pancetta, 2 rosemary sprigs, 1 sage sprig, and about 1 teaspoon of the garlic paste into the cavity of the chicken.  Using a small paring knife, cut six small slits in the skin of the chicken.  Strip the leaves from the remaining 2 rosemary sprigs and mince with 6 leaves from the remaining 2 sage sprigs.  Put a pinch of salt, a portion of the herbs, and a pinch of the garlic paste into each slit.  Gently massage the seasonings into the chicken.  Tie the legs of the chicken and place in prepared baking pan.  Spread the remaining garlic paste all over the chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Set aside to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.  

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pour the wine into the baking pan and spread the olive oil over the top of the chicken.  Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, then turn chicken onto its breast and bake an additional 40 minutes, or until well browned.  Turn the chicken onto its back again and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees F.*  Remove from oven and set aside to rest for at least 7 minutes before carving.  Carve as desired and serve hot.  

*Ginny's note:  If the chicken you're using is less than 5 pounds, please reduce roasting times accordingly.  There are few gastronomic experiences worse than overcooked chicken (undercooked chicken being one of them.)   


Winnie said...

This recipe totally caught my eye! It's not the one I am posting about, but I will be making it soon. Looking forward to the blog book tour for this lovely book!

Veronica Miller said...

I love your step-by-step photos! And your story about your boys using the twine cracked me up. :) I'm definitely going to be trying this one...I'm not sure there will be any in the book I don't try!

Unknown said...

Thank you Ginny for making this recipe , for some reason is your mom favorite recipe and my mom favorite recipe too!!!Looks perfect! the way you organize the World blog tour is fantastic, I'm having so much fun to see all the post and comments.Every blogger is been great! I feel lucky!

Kim Bee said...

Love this. It's one of the few recipes I didn't make. But it's earmarked for next week. I buy chickens from a local farm twice a year and freeze them. Just picked up an order so this is perfect timing.

Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook said...

This was a wonderful main course and last night I made soup from the leftovers. The combination of ingredients made the soup incredibly flavorful and with a few fresh vegetables, healthy to boot! Thank you including me in the blogger book tour and sharing a piece of your family with all of us!