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Cooking Italy: Cast Iron Roast Chicken with Lemons

Using a Marcella Hazan recipe and a zuni cafe technique, this is the best roasted chicken you will ever eat and the folklore is that a marriage proposal will follow.
Servings: 4


  • 3-4 pound chicken
  • salt
  • pepper freshly ground
  • 2 small lemons


  • Rinse in cold water, pat dry and salt chicken inside and out with 1 1/2 t of salt. Wrap in plastic for a minimum of one day, a maximum of three days.
  • Rinse salt off, pat dry and proceed.
  • Salt and pepper chicken inside and out moderately.
  • Pierce two organic lemons all over. Stuff inside of chicken.
  • Close up chicken, but not air tight.
  • Preheat cast iron pan in 450 degree oven. Place chicken breast side down. It will sizzle and sear.
  • In 30 minutes turn over and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Use a meat thermometer to test doneness at 20 minutes. Chicken will take 45-60 minutes depending on size and your oven.
  • Allow to rest 10 minutes before cutting.


Marcella roasts at 350. I roast at 450. Both temperatures work, with varying cooking times. The hotter temperature brings the sizzle when using the cast iron pan. You can even roast at 400 degrees, but start with the hottest oven.
I have combined two recipes and credit must go to both. These are cookbooks that should be in every kitchen. Read them, use them, tweak them, combine them, but come under their influence.
Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classical Italian Cooking
Zuni Cafe Cookbook