Salt and Pepper Roast Chicken with Lemon Dressing

I roast whole chicken using Jacques Pepin's classic method, in a large cast-iron skillet, but a small roasting pan or shallow, wide Dutch oven works as well of course. The chicken should be roasted on its sides primarily to ensure the juiciness of the breast meat and expose the back and dark meat more evenly to the heat of the oven. Lemon sauce or salmoriglio is an ancient Sicilian sauce that can be used as a marinade and/or as a dressing for any protein, chicken, steak or fish, whether roasted or grilled. The root of the sauce's name is salamoia, which means salty brine, so it's perfectly named to serve and pair with this dry-brined simple chicken.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 3 hr (includes chilling time)
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Ingredients

Salt and Pepper Roast Chicken:

One 3 1/2- to 4-pound whole organic chicken

Kosher salt and coarse black pepper

Salmoriglio (Lemon Dressing):

2 lemons (reserve the zest of 1 and halve both)

About 1 cup EVOO

1 large or 2 medium shallots, peeled and finely chopped

3 large cloves garlic, grated or chopped

1/4 cup water

2 full, green stems fresh oregano, leaves stripped and finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons) 

1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (half a palm full)

1 cup loosely packed parsley tops, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup once chopped) 

Serving suggestion: crusty bread

Directions

  1. For the salt and pepper roast chicken: Liberally season the chicken inside and out with kosher salt and pepper. Refrigerate the chicken uncovered on lowest shelf of fridge in a rimmed pan or dish overnight or up to 24 hours and a minimum of 1 hour.
  2. For the lemon dressing: Heat a medium cast-iron or heavy skillet over medium-high heat, then sear the lemons cut-side down to caramelize them and sweeten juices, about 4 minutes. Remove lemons from the skillet, add 1/4 cup EVOO and reduce heat a bit. Add shallots and garlic and stir 5 to 6 minutes to soften, then add 1/4 cup water and let it absorb. Turn off heat and cool mixture a bit to room temp. Place cooled mixture in a medium glass bowl and add the juice of the lemons, lemon zest, oregano, red pepper flakes and parsley. Whisk in remaining 3/4 cup EVOO to form a thick dressing.
  3. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F, rack at center. Roast the chicken in the skillet on one side for 20 minutes, then turn to opposite side and roast 20 minutes more. Finally turn the chicken on its back (breast-side up), spoon juices over the skin, and continue to roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken registers 160 to 165 degrees F. Rest bird and carve, then serve with sauce to pass and crusty bread.
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