I recently noticed I have a Meyer lemon tree growing in my yard. I'm not as dense as that makes me sound. I just moved into a new house a few months ago that has a lot of grounds and quite a few nooks and crannies. I did notice the lemon tree at first but as it's not really in my daily path, kind of forgot about it. Then one day I needed a lemon and remembered... the lemon tree! Then when I went out to it I looked closely and saw it was Meyer lemon tree. I was elated! Even more exciting is that right now is smack in the middle of Meyer lemon season. Bliss. Big, grandiose plans, ideas churning, thinking cap on. Meyer lemon ice cream or Meyer lemon tart a la Alice Waters? A steamed artichoke with a Meyer lemon aioli? Meyer lemonade?
So many choices. So many lemons.
Before I could realize this romantic notion of spending two days straight dressed in my cozies, listening to jazz in the kitchen, with the lemons and my elaborate plans for them, my mom came to town. Not to make Mom coming to town sound ominous in any way - she actually loves to cook and bake and we even had plans to bake bread while she was here.
After settling in, some shopping, and some Chateau Marmont time we hit the Sunday market and settled in for a day of KITCHEN.
On a very rainy Sunday night, with myself having suddenly fallen all sicky, icky, coldy and fluey (and I never get sick, seriously) we baked the bread which turned out fantastic, I prepared bacon-wrapped dates for noshing, some sauteed kale, and a roast chicken with fennel and Meyer lemon. Some friends flitted in and out during the cooking and eating (everyone loves my mom) and we all had a snuggly, cozy, rainy, Sunday night filled with food, friends and family. Everything was delicious.
After Mom left to return home (with the bug she caught from me) I threw what was left of the chicken into a pot and made a wonderful stock that put me on the path to wellness. This dish is truly one that keeps on giving.
1 small chicken (4 pounds), washed and dried
4 Meyer lemons, divided
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and sliced thinly crosswise
8 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 Tablespoons olive oil
About an hour ahead, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice 2 of the lemons paper thin with a knife or a mandoline. With your fingers, carefully loosen the skin from the meat on the bird. Insert 5 or 6 lemon slices underneath the skin. Put any unused slices and the ends of the lemons into the cavity, and rub the salt over the chicken.
Cut the remaining 2 lemons into 8 wedges and scatter them in the bottom of a shallow baking pan with the fennel and garlic. Place the chicken on top of the fruit and vegetable-ness. Pour the olive oil over the bird, then season with a few grinds of black pepper.
Roast chicken in the oven for 30 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and roast for about 20 minutes longer, or until the meat is firm, the skin is golden, and the juices run clear (a thermometer placed into the thickest part of the bird will register 165 degrees). The vegetables and fruit will have started to caramelize.
Let rest 15 minutes, then serve with the roasted lemons and fennel.
"We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons." ~Alfred E. Newman