Winner, Winner Josie's Jitterbug Chicken Dinner!
A sleepy January has led to an insane February. This month has exploded with moming, shows, events, travel and family. While I love all of the above, up until today, I've felt a bit like a chicken without a head, which is perhaps inspiration for today's recipe, my Nonna Jo's roasted chicken. This dish was another staple in our family growing up, it's juicy, bursting with lemon and rosemary flavor is drool worthy. And while my grandmother made her version sans white wine and with potatoes instead of butternut squash, I find the wine adds a lightness and the squash to be an amazing and healthy substitution. Perhaps I'm just saying that because I've forgotten the taste of those glorious lil' potato carbs, but Ive made this for others and they certainly didn't seem to mind!
This is a great dish to serve for guests. Last summer when I was in Italy visiting with family in Spoleto, they of course, made a glorious 7 course dinner for us and I was so thrilled to see this familiar chicken brought to the table as course 4. My family may have crossed the ocean, but we brought our chicken recipe.
WHAT DO I NEED?
1 Md - Lg Butternut Squash (peeled and cut into 1/2” cubes)
1 3 - 5lb Chicken (cleaned and gizzards removed)
White Wine (medium dry, not sweet)
S & P
Preheat your oven to 400
Carefully peel and cut your squash into 1/4" pieces, in a medium bowl mix in 1 T of olive oil and 1 1/2 t of chopped rosemary, add salt and pepper and set aside.
Now let's make our basting juice! In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup of olive oil, the juice of one large lemon, a splash of white wine and one T of chopped rosemary, mix well and set aside. I used Tattooed Lady white wine by Leidenfrost Vineyards. It's carbonated, so I was a little unsure how it would turn out, but is was fabulous!
Salt & pepper your chicken, take a tablespoon of the basting juice and massage well into your chicken, make sure you grab lots of the rosemary.
Roughly shave a lemon and poke some holes in it with a fork, insert the lemon halfway into the chicken's tush, tie legs together. to keep your lemon secure and the chicken cavity closed off. You want that baby to act as a lil' lemon steamer. Sometimes, in a smaller chicken you have to be a lil' aggressive with the lemon insertion.
Pour your squash into a medium sized baking sheet, you want them to be in a tight but in a single layer in the sheet and still have a clear space for your chicken in the middle. Place your chicken directly on the sheet. I add lemon slices between the wings and the body and on either side of the tush, as well as a sprig of rosemary because it looks pretty!
Place in the oven at 400 degrees for 1 - 3 hours, chicken weight depending. Check out this chicken cooking guide for tips! Every 30 minutes or so baste your chicken with a little bit of the basting juice.
When your chicken is done, allow it to cool and serve. If you are a lemon freak, you can squeeze an additional lemon over it.
Cooking for a large party? Big birds make me nervous, so if I am having company I'm more inclined to cook two 5 pounders instead of one ten! And feel free to bring back the potatoes in place of the butternut squash, the preparation methods remain the same while my metabolism past 35 has not.
Here is my Nonna and I in the middle of doing the Jittterbug, She loved dancing and anytime anything with a beat came on she would grab your hand and say, "let's jitterbug" and you would dance around the kitchen while she would lead with a perfect rock step. Unfortunately, Dementia ultimately took my grandmother from us and while it was a slow and heartbreaking road to lose someone so treasured and loved piece by piece, there were two magical things that could pull my nonna back from confusion and fog if just for a short while, and those were her grandchildren and dancing the jitterbug.