Tip: Did you know you can freeze whole lemons and limes? They are perfect for cooking. Leave the frozen fruit on the counter for an hour. The zest is easy to remove, and the fruit slices and juices easily also. Next time you see lemons and limes on sale, buy a bag and freeze them for future cooking.
Southern Italian Style Lemon Chicken
Cooking a whole chicken is very economical because you get several meals from one chicken.
3 large lemons
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 garlic clove minced
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
4-pound whole chicken
Remove the zest from the three lemons and set aside. Cut the lemons into thin slices and set aside.
Cut the chicken along the backbone on one side with kitchen shears. Do not remove the bone. Turn the chicken over and flatten it. (The reason I did not remove the backbone is that I want to use the entire chicken carcass for soup.)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil on the baking sheet. Lay the lemon slices in the olive oil down the middle of the tray as a “rack” for the chicken. Sprinkle one-third of the lemon rub on the underside of the chicken. Turn the chicken over and rub the remaining lemon mixture over and under the skin of the whole chicken. Lay the chicken, skin side up, on the bed of lemons and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Roast, basting every 15 minutes until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees F in the thigh about 45 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Using a fork, mash the lemon pulp into the juices on the baking sheet, discarding the rind. Mix the pulp into the drippings and use this mixture to spoon over the chicken just before serving.
Serve some of the chicken for dinner. I was able to remove about 4 cups meat. I left some meat clinging to the leg, wing and breast bones for soup. Shred 1 to 2 cups for the recipe below. Use the carcass and some of the cooked chicken for chicken noodle soup. You may even have enough leftover for some chicken salad.
Baked Chicken Taquitos (Rolled Tacos)
The entire recipe makes 20 taquitos. I cut the recipe in half and made 10 for my family. I like tortillas made from cassava flour for this recipe because they are grain-free, light and easy to roll.
For the Taquitos:
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chili powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
20 corn tortillas
For the Toppings:
Chopped Green Onion
Crumbled Queso Fresco
Pico de Gallo
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the shredded chicken with cumin, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and fresh lime juice. Stir until chicken is well coated with the seasonings. Stir in the shredded cheese.
Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and place on a plate. Microwave for 1 minute or until the tortillas are warm and pliable.
Layout the tortillas on a flat surface and divide the chicken and cheese mixture among the 20 tortillas. Roll up each tortilla tightly and secure with a toothpick.
Place a heaping tablespoon of the chicken and cheese mixture in the center of the tortilla and roll it up tightly. Place the taquito, seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Continue rolling taquitos until the tortillas and filling are gone.
Spray the taquitos generously with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the taquitos are golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and serve warm with desired toppings.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Leave some meat on the bones, especially the legs, wings, and breast bone
Chicken bones leftover from the roasted chicken recipe above
1 whole onion, cut in half
2 carrots, cut in half
4 celery stalks with leaves, cut in thirds
6 fresh thyme sprigs
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon peppercorns
8 quarts water
Place all the ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Cover the pan with the lid ajar.
Strain the broth in a colander lined with cheesecloth over a large bowl. Let drain completely. Pick out any meat in the cheesecloth and set aside. Discard the cooking vegetables and bones and return the broth to the stockpot.
Reserved chicken meat
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
5 scallions, diced
6 oz fettuccine or noodles
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the strained broth, carrots, celery, and scallions in the stockpot. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook the vegetables, about 20 minutes. Return toa boil, add the noodles and cook for about 5 minutes. Add salt (I added 2 teaspoons) and black pepper to taste. Stir in reserved chicken meat, dill, and parsley.