Roast Chicken with Preserved Lemon & Sage

Three simple ingredients take an average Sunday roast chicken to new and exotic heights: sage, preserved lemon, and garlic. Taking flavor cues from the classic Italian sage chicken, this roast is infused with an intensely flavored paste of preserved lemon rind and garlic, as well as fresh sage leaves placed in strategic locations under the skin. What could be simpler?

The preserved lemon lends a deep citrus flavor even after long cooking and marries beautifully with the fresh sage. There’s a reason this combination of lemon, garlic and sage has remained a stand-by in so many kitchens!

Make the paste: In the small bowl of a food processor or blender, mince together 3-6 cloves of garlic with 4-6 preserved lemon rinds (to equal one lemon; roughly chop the rinds), several grinds of fresh black pepper, about 2 TBL. olive oil, and 2-3 tsp. of liquid from the jar of preserved lemons (which contains a lot of salt already). Taste paste and correct seasoning. You should have almost 1 cup of paste, enough for a 5-6lb. bird.

Rinse and pat dry the whole chicken, and carefully lift skin to separate it from meat without tearing. Put 1 TBL of paste inside chicken cavity, and spread around interior wall of the bird. Take 1 TBL. of paste at a time and place under skin around joints between leg and thigh, under thighs, and between leg and breast. As an optional step, you can take a small paring knife and make small slits, especially in and around he thick breast meat and fill the slits with lemon-garlic paste. When paste if used up, place 6-10 cleaned fresh sage leaves under skin over the thigh and breast sections.

Lightly oil chicken skin and season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Then bake in pre-heated oven until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh and not touching bone registers 180F/83C. When cooked, the chicken skin becomes almost translucent and the pattern of he sage leaves beneath can be seen. The Thanksgiving turkey never had it so good!

Serve with your favorite potato mash or pasta, or as we did with a couscous pilaf with dried fruit, minced veggies and pine nuts.

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More Recipes with Preserved Lemons:
How to Make Preserved Lemons
Chicken with Preserved Lemons & Olives
Lamb Shanks with Preserved Lemons and Gremolata
Chicken with Preserved Lemons & Figs
Preserved Lemon & Almond Polenta Torta (dessert)