May 16, 2011

Pollo arrosto al limone recipe

This recipe has been in my family ever since I can remember. I have seen variations of it in cookbooks from all over the world, and in various cuisine websites.

When we refer to this dish we usually call it "pollo coi limoni nel c..." alluding to where exactly it is the lemons enter the chicken.

Despite its uncouth name, this dish is always very popular. It's easy to make, and has saved my own culo in the course of many improvised meals, with the unexpected dinner guests routinely licking their fingers and the plate clean.

Image © paperogiallo
Essential to any successful dish–I'll never tire of repeating this–are natural, wholesome ingredients. Choose a healthy chicken, that's not been fed hormones, antibiotics, or animal protein. A bird that's had plenty of time to cluck about in wide, open spaces. I'm lucky enough to have a retailer nearby that sells San Bartolomeo broilers.
Real free-range chickens in the San Bartolomeo farm
The lemons I use are plucked off my mother's tree, two blocks from my apartment, in the garden I grew up in. I know the only thing I scrub off these lemons is dirt. No chemicals, no pesticides, no wax... niente.
Mamma's organic lemons
The ingredient list is short, and the instructions are brief. Please don't let them scare you with things like, 'the mark of a top chef is roast chicken.' This failsafe recipe will guarantee a perfect bird, crisp on the outside, with under it succulent, tender meat.

1 whole chicken, possibly free range
2 organic lemons
1 bouillon cube
Preheat oven at 180° C (350° F).

Burn off any excess feather stubble over the stove and give the bird a nice bath. Carefully towel dry inside and out.

Soften the lemons by rubbing them between your palms (good exercise for cleavage). Cut one lemon in half and poke holes in the other with a fork. Insert the lemons and the stock cube in the chicken, apologizing for intrusiveness.

Seal the opening shut using toothpicks (or poultry skewers) and kitchen string, and then tie the drumsticks together.

Place in a high-rimmed oven pan, and bake for 30 minutes, basting often with resulting juices.

Raise the heat and broil for another 10 minutes. To check final cooking, poke drumstick with a fork: juices should run clear.

This particular recipe's simplicity is directly proportionate to its mouthwatering goodness. It'd be a crime discarding the precious skin.

Buon appetito.


  1. this seems fairly simple...i may even be able to do it..smiles. happy sunday lola

  2. I am putting this recipe on my "to try" list. Anything with lemons I do ♥. Lovely golden color. And I am glad your dad is feeling better :)

    Cocina Diary

  3. I've never seen this with a beef stock cube - I shall definnitely try this - chicken and lemon equals dinner bliss.

  4. Sounds delicious. I recently made a Moroccan lemon chicken using preserved lemons..something about lemon and chicken just seem made for each other. I will try this.

  5. Funny, believe it or not, roast chicken is exactly what we had for dinner tonight, but no lemon inside... will have to try that next time, sounds exquisite...

    Giggling about exercise good for cleavage... does it work for guys too ???

  6. :) ehilà mica lo sapevo che avevi un blog così bello! Complimenti!
    Non avevo capito chi fossi. Piacere davvero

  7. Damn it. I have to stop coming by here before I've eaten. You start my stomach growling every time.

  8. ah - 3 ingredient recipes -- the best!! am thinking of cooking this tonight, as the smell of roast chicken wafting through the house is intoxicating.

    i read your post on scarpetta -- and have to ask --- who does not do this? what would moules marinara and others like it be without sopping up all that goodness? common sense deliciousness trumps any etiquette manual!

  9. I LOVE your blog! most of the time you make me smile but this time i was laughing alone (pollo coi limoni nel c...! hilarius) i will try this for sure. ah! your pictures are beautiful.
    Grazie Lola!!

  10. Brian~
    This is really easy, and the kids can help you prepare it!

    Yum, indeed! There are no more leftovers!

    I'm happy you like it, thank you!

    The stock cube really gives it a flavor boost, releasing all the precious chicken juices.Tell me when you've made it...

    I'm curious about the preserved lemons in your Maghreb recipe... tell me more.

    Cleavage AND pects. Try it and get back to me...

    Che piacere la tua visita! Grazie davvero, arrossisco ;)

    Ah ha, mission accomplished. I'm such a gastro-tease...

    I know, scarpetta is a no-brainer!
    Thanks for stopping by.

  11. I received a huge bag of lemons from a friend and not knowing what to do with all of them, I googled and found many easy recipes for preserved lemons. Basically, they are quartered and packed in kosher salt in a large jar...then refrigerated and they last for at least a year. There are many recipes to use the Moroccan chicken. It is also a recipe used in the Jewish tradition. Has chicken, lemon, olives, onions...delicious!!

  12. Hello Eleonora, what a delicious sounding recipe - loved the part about cleaning off the feather stubble! FHFB loves any dish that invites scarpetta - I think it's the best part of the meal for him and for him, a meal isn't complete without it. Ciao, bella!

  13. Scarpetta! This might be my new motto.

    Hm, next time I make a whole chicken, this lemon recipe is a winner. Maybe I should try it out on the grill...

  14. Patricia~
    great, thanks for the wonderful information!!

    Ann Marie~
    Ciao bella! I'm like F, meal is not proper unless it envisions some sort of plate mopping.

    Grilling a whole chicken... not a good idea! This recipe works best in the oven, because the slow roast extracts tasty juices that blend with the lemon, thus resulting in tender meat and crisp, fragrant skin.

    Buon appetito!

  15. Absolutely delicious and free range chickens do taste better :)

  16. Linda~
    Yes, definietly a different taste. When you eat free range, you can never go back to those anemic-looking chickens sold in the supermarket!

  17. Ciao Eleonora:
    I tried the recepie and while it seems like a great concept I have a question about the cooking time. I started with a fairly large 4+lb chicken and in 30 minutes it had not even started to sweat. I let it go for an hour and 15 minutes and still not a lot of the drippings and the thigh was a bit pink. Maybe the time needs to be about an hour and a half? I will try it again soon.
    Please know I am not complaining, I absolutely appreciate your blog and as soon as I get off this diet the cacio e pepe is on the menu!
    Grazie Mille e salutami la Citta Eterna!

  18. I love the simplicity of this dish and your family name for it ! Gets right to the point, so to speak...

    Nothing like free-range chickens. You know we actually had a chicken coop back in Rome that we shared with our landlord. One day he let his chickens out to roam around. When he came back... all that was left was feathers. Some local foxes had had a nice meal...

  19. Jim~
    thank you for your helpful comment. For some obscure reason, Italian ovens are hotter than abroad. I've heard this by more than one disgruntled recipe blogger. But another more important difference is that the broilers I use are never bigger than 3lbs, I should have mentioned that in the ingredient list!
    Let me take anothr look at mamma's recipe book, and see if maybe I copied the baking time wrong. Thanks for your helpful contribution!

    Oh, no! Like in a cartoon... Where did you live in Rome that you had enough room for a chicken coop? If I remember correctly, it was a desirable trans-river location... vero? ;)
    I've always dreamed of raising hens and roosters, but then I'd probably never eat chicken again.

  20. hi it is quite simple and easy to cook i in my country we called it "lechon manok" most pupular in dish on Christmas =)

  21. My Nonna has taught me that simple is always best!
    3 ingredients- thats simple all right!
    Looks yumo!

  22. Great post! I love the way you have written this recipe! Will defintinely try doing it your way next time.So happy to hear that your lemons are assisting with the cleavage too!

  23. Free Nutritional Calculator~
    Ah, then you must be Filipino! I'm happy when good food knows no geographical borders.

    Our two nonnas thought alike! Ciao

    Glad you enjoyed this. As far as assisting with cleavage, it's more damage control... ;)

  24. I 'brain-marked' this and now I'll use it. I'm sure it will be yummy!

  25. This will be our dinner tonight. A hormone free roasting chicken that is so tender and juicy from a wonderful market that unfortunately is not that close to where I live but worth the drive.
    The lemons would never grow here so I will use ones from the store, well scrubbed.
    I will make pan gravy from the drippings and we will have mashed potatoes with roasted garlic mixed in.
    Oh gosh I have not even had breakfast yet and would eat this right now.

  26. Rosa~
    Hope you like it! Buon appetito!!

    Sounds like a feast fit for kings, and well-deserved, I might add.
    You blend in roasted garlic to mashed potatoes? Interesting... In addition to the standard (grated parmigiano, a little nutmeg and a chunk of butter) I like to fold in a drop of truffle oil...

  27. This looks easy to make and I might consider trying to make it.