You can mark this recipe to serve on feast days, family lunch, meeting of friends. It is guaranteed success. The lemon and herbs leave the special flavor and the preparation technique guaranteed soft and juicy meat.
1 whole chicken (about 1.7 kg)
3 large onions
1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon of salt flower (or coarse salt)
1 ½ teaspoon of sweet paprika
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 branches of laurel
4 branches of rosemary
Freshly ground black pepper
Wash and dry the Sicilian lemons. With a zester (or grater) make zest of 1 lemon peel. If using coarse salt, hit the pestle to break into smaller pieces. In a small bowl, mix the salt, paprika, brown sugar, lemon zest and freshly ground black pepper this is the dry marinade, which will season the chicken.
Dry the chicken well with paper towels.
Place the chicken in a large bowl (or platter) and season with the dry marinade rub the salt and spices mixture well over the entire skin, between the skin and the breast meat and inside the chicken cavity. Cover the bowl (or cover with film) and refrigerate to marinate for 1 hour.
After the time of marinade, preheat the oven to 220 ºC (high temperature). Remove the chicken from the refrigerator for 30 minutes to lose the ice while the oven heats up.
Peel and cut the onion into 1.5 cm thick slices. Drizzle the bottom of a large baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil and distribute the onion rings, side by side, forming a bed for the chicken.
Arrange on top of onions 3 branches of rosemary greased with oil and 1 branch of laurel; also put the whole garlic head on the baking sheet. Drizzle everything with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Drizzle the chicken with 2 tablespoons of oil and spread it well with your hands. Cut the lemon you used to make zest into quarters.
Place the lemon quarters inside the chicken cavity, with 4 bay leaves. Finely chop the leaves of the remaining rosemary branch and mix with 2 tablespoons of oil in a small bowl.
Place the chicken on the board, breast up, and fit the wing tips under the back – so they do not burn while roasting. Cut a large piece of string, hold one end in each hand and position the center of the thread on the thickest part of the breast (where the chicken’s neck was).
Pass the string over your thighs, close to the side of your chest; take a walk outside the tips of the thighs, cross and tie – this way the thighs are closer to the chest, making the heat more evenly distributed in the meat.
Pull the ends of the string down, looping around the chicken’s tail and tie it together with the thighs – this way, the chicken cavity is more closed, which makes the meat more humid.
Place the chicken on the baking sheet, on the bed of onions and herbs, with the breast facing up and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until the skin begins to gain a golden tone. Lower the oven temperature to 180 ºC (medium temperature) and leave the chicken for another 55 minutes, until it is completely roasted and the skin is golden and crispy. In the last 5 minutes, carefully open the oven and spread the olive oil with chopped rosemary over the chicken’s skin to give the herb an extra flavor without burning.
To check whether the chicken is roasted: with the tip of a knife, make a little hole in the junction of the drumstick with the breast.
If the liquid comes out without blood it is a sign that it is ready, otherwise go back to the oven for a few more minutes. If using a thermometer: the internal temperature of the chicken must be at least 75 ºC.
Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Do not skip this step: in that time, the meat juices are redistributed, which guarantees a moist and tasty roast. Serve next with onions, roasted garlic and sliced lemon.