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Just Like the Old Days—Italian Herb-Roasted Chicken

By Ippolita Douglas Scotti:

Yesterday, I was feeling nostalgic for something familiar and comforting. I certainly need it! You can't even imagine the life here Italy these days. It's crazy. Maybe I'll tell you about it sometime, but not today. I want to talk about food, because it makes me feel good. That's the thing about food, isn't it? Something delicious always has a way to fill the heart . . . and we need that more than ever.

So, in the end, I decided on a classic—an Italian roasted chicken. Juicy, not dry. Favolosa!

This dish is one of the very homiest comfort foods you can make—and I'm guessing that it applies to almost everyone, not just Italians! When it cooks, the delicious scent reminds me of Sunday lunches when I was a child. It is a very homey comfort food, a simple dish, an evergreen, and no one can resist the salty, crispy skin—and no matter the amount of roasted potatoes you make, it's never enough!

To make the perfect pollo arrosto as we call it, I have a few tricks that I want to share:

  • Your chicken must always be ruspante—free range, organic, and antibiotic free.

  • You need a bunch of fresh herbs such as sage, rosemary, thyme, and a bayleaf to create the magic. The secret is to place the herbs, garlic, and butter under the skin and massage it in—adding salt only to the skin, not on the meat. Otherwise, it will get too dry.

If you follow these simple suggestions, you’ll always cook a juicy roasted chicken with a crispy golden skin that melts in your mouth. If you roast it with the potatoes, they will absorb all the delicious flavor and take this dish to new heights. Deliziosa!

Italian Roast Chicken

1 whole organic chicken, approx. 5 lbs.

1 clove of garlic

A bunch of fresh sage, rosemary, thyme, and a bayleaf

Half a lemon

1 Tbs butter

Salt and Pepper

Extra Virgin olive oil

8 potatoes

Make a little cut in the skin and slip the herb/garlic mixture under the skin. Add a bit of coarse salt and ground pepper to the skin and massage the bird.

Place the half lemon and the bay leaf inside the chicken cavity. Drizzle the oil over the bird and let marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Keep the remaining chopped herbs for the potatoes.

Preheat oven to 425° F (170° C)

Peel and cut potatoes into wedges. Add 2 Tbs olive oil to a large roasting pan with salt, pepper, and the remaining chopped herbs. Give it a toss to blend the ingredients.

Place the marinated chicken on top of the potatoes.

Cook for an hour and a half or until the internal temperature is 180° F for the breast/190° F for the thighs.

Serve the chicken very hot with a good glass of hearty red wine. You'll be so happy!


Contessa Ippolita Douglas Scotti di Vigileno is a true Italian—born in Florence, Italy, from a long line of eccentric Italian aristocrats, she has traveled the world in search of adventure, romance, and magical, mouth-watering recipes. "Ippo" loves Italian history, especially as it relates to food. Author of There's a Beatle in My Soup,Curcuma e Zenzero (Ginger & Tumeric), 101 Perche Sulla Storia di Firenze (101 questions on Florence History), and Superfoods, Ippo is currently finishing her latest work, The Lords of Florence (all published by Newton Compton Publishers).

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