My sister Marisa and I recently had the pleasure of taking a class on Sicilian Cuisine at La Scuola di Eataly in Chicago with Chef Adam Weisell. Chef Weisell grew up in Rome, and was trained by Mario Batali. Boy, can this guy cook!
He showed us how to make Sicilian Roast Chicken with Lemon, Orange and Ginger and talked about the history of Sicilian cuisine – a unique blend of Roman, Greek, Spanish, Jewish and Arabic cultures. Saveur Magazine did a great article on the history of cooking in Sicily that I highly recommend reading if you are interested. Sicily is a Mediterranean island lush with citrus groves, and was a favorite port for traders in the Old World. Roman and Arabic traders brought ginger to Sicily so it was natural to find ways to use those ingredients in their local cooking. When added with the ubiquitous garlic and olive oil, two other staples of Italian cooking, the resulting flavor is invigorating, spicy, and sassy!
Chef Weisell used chicken thighs instead of a whole roasting chicken as called for in the original recipe. I think that was an inspired choice, since thighs are not only cheaper but are perfectly suited for this dish. The meat is moist and holds the flavors well. I love how he infuses every part of the chicken with the citrus/ginger mixture – under the skin, in a marinade and basting during roasting! Chef served the thighs with roasted baby potatoes cooked on a sheet pan in olive oil for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees and tossed with fresh marjoram, salt and pepper.
Thank you for a wonderful meal Chef!
Roasted Chicken Thighs with Orange, Lemon & Ginger
This Sicilian chicken dish is wonderful for a Sunday dinner or for a crowd. The original recipe called for a whole roasting chicken, but using chicken thighs is cheaper and can be made in a large roasting pan. Garnish with lemons, oranges and ginger.
- 8 chicken thighs, bone-in with skin
- 1 lemon, sliced with peel
- 1 orange, sliced with peel
- 1 lemon, zested, and squeezed for juice
- 1 orange, zested, and squeezed for juice
- 3 tablespoons (2 inch piece) of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ cup orange juice
- 3 tablespoons honey
- In a small bowl, combine lemon and orange zest, 1 tablespoon grated ginger, and garlic. Stuff the citrus/ginger mixture between the chicken skin and meat on each thigh. Salt and pepper the outside of the chicken.
- To make the marinade, whisk together the olive oil, lemon and orange juice and honey in a small bowl.
- In a hot, oven-proof skillet large enough to hold all the chicken in a single layer, place the chicken thighs skin down and cook over medium high heat until golden. Turn and brown the other side. Remove the chicken from the pan. Line the pan with the lemon and orange slices. Return the chicken to the pan on the bed of citrus. The citrus slices will be used as garnish at the end. Brush a little marinade over the chicken.
- Place the skillet in a preheated oven at 350 degrees. Baste with the citrus marinade every 15 minutes. Cook the chicken until the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife, approximately 45 minutes.
- Plate two chicken thighs per person with a slice of caramelized citrus. Can also garnish with more of the lemon, orange, ginger zest mixture.