Lex's Roast Chicken


1/4 cup olive oil
3 large onions, sliced into half-moons
2 cups celery, sliced
2 tsp lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 chicken (3-4 lbs)
2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 loaf crusty French bread, sliced 3/4 inch thick
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375°. Sauté onions in 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add celery, and continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Add lemon zest, garlic, pepper, and red pepper; continue to sauté an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in parsley, and set aside.

While vegetables are cooking, butterfly the chicken. Remove the backbone by cutting along both sides with kitchen shears. Turn the chicken over (breast side up) and press down on the breastbone to crack and flatten it. Rub chicken on both sides with 2 TBS olive oil; season with pepper and salt.

Lightly oil the skillet or baking dish, and place bread slices snugly against each other to fill the bottom of the pan. Spread the sautéed onion mixture over the bread slices to completely cover.

Place the chicken, breast side up (tucking the wings under the breast) over the bread and vegetable mixture. Pour the fresh lemon juice over the entire chicken, and place, uncovered, in the oven. Roast the chicken until golden brown, and it registers at least 165° on meat thermometer (about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, begin checking for doneness during the last 15 minutes of cooking time).

Remove from oven, and let stand for 10 minutes. Place chicken on cutting board, and cut the chicken into quarters, or smaller pieces for serving. Place slices of bread and vegetables on serving plates, and top with chicken. 4 servings.

From the October 2004 issue of Cuisine at Home.