Pollo Arrosto con la Pancetta e gli Odori

Roast Chicken with Pancetta and Herbs

There is not a way of preparing chicken I don’t like, even simply boiling it, but there are times I have a yen for a particular consistency, a special fragrance. This recipe is one I use when I want a savory roast chicken that is not just tender but moist, with marked aromatic character. The key flavor ingredients, which go into the cavity, are rosemary and sage, chopped lemon peel, and pancetta. In the first stage of cooking, the bird is baked, wrapped in foil, in a medium oven, favoring the secretion and accumulation of tasty juices. In the second stage, the foil is removed, the oven temperature raised, and the chicken finishes roasting basted in its juices. One practical aspect of the recipe is that it requires only occasional attention, leaving one free to put together the rest of the dinner.


  • A roasting chicken, about pounds
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried, chopped; together with 3 or 4 fresh sage leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried leaves
  • 2 or 3 strips lemon peel (outer skin with none of the white pith beneath), chopped fine
  • Salt
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • 2 ounces pancetta, cut into narrow strips
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice


  1. Turn on the oven to 350°F.
  2. Wash the chicken under cold running water and pat thoroughly dry with kitchen towels. Rub its cavity with the mixed chopped rosemary and sage, the chopped lemon peel, salt, and several grindings of pepper. Place the strips of pancetta in the cavity.
  3. Line a baking pan with a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil or parchment paper large enough to fold over the chicken subsequently and enclose it completely. Place the chicken breast side up over the foil. Moisten the chicken with the olive oil, distributing it evenly in a thin stream. Do likewise with the lemon juice. Fold the ends of the foil over the chicken, crimping them to make an airtight seal.
  4. Place the pan with the chicken in the uppermost level of the preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes.
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven, turning up the temperature to 425°F. Unwrap the bird, discarding the foil but taking care to pour all the cooking juices back into the pan. Place the chicken in the pan breast side down and return it to the oven. After 20 minutes, turn the bird on one side, bake for 10 minutes more, then turn it on its other side and bake for another 10 minutes. At this point, turn it with its breast facing down and bake for a final 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the chicken from the oven and, after it has rested for about 5 to 8 minutes, cut it into several pieces, detaching the wings and legs and cutting the breast and back into 2 pieces each. Transfer to a warm serving platter. Pour over the chicken all the cooking juices collected in the pan and spread over it the strips of pancetta. Serve at once.