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Lemon and Rosemary Chicken "Pollo Arrosto" adapted from a Saveur recipe by Evan Kleiman of Los Angeles’ Angeli Caffe

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This great rustic Italian
recipe hails from Los Angeles

If you’re looking for a great dinner party Chicken recipe, you can’t do much better than this.  The combination of lemon, garlic and rosemary gives the dish great depth of flavor.  The chicken is crispy on the outside and meltingly tender inside.  The dish can be multiplied or divided depending on how many guests you’re entertaining.  When I made it, I was expecting 10 for dinner.  I felt quite a bit like the BBC character Hyacinth Bucket (Bouquet).  Whenever she gave one of her “Candlelight Suppers”, the guests inevitably bowed out at the last minute.  I managed to lose 3 after the chicken had gone into its marinade.  But the evening turned out to be magical as the remaining guests all had a much more intimate dinner that they all raved about. And I was left with lemon-y, garlic-y cold chicken with which I made a chicken salad I’m still dreaming about. 

The recipe for ‘Pollo Arrosto’ comes from a much-loved and now closed Italian eatery, Angeli Caffe on LA’s hip shopping street, Melrose Avenue.  Chef Evan Kleiman opened the place in 1984.  Chef Evan, author of 8 cookbooks, has been called “the fairy Godmother of the LA food scene”.  For the past 16 years, she’s presided over a radio program called “Good Food” on LA’s KCRW.  In that time she’s interviewed over 6000 guests—everyone from top Chefs to the Farmers who put the food on their tables. In the 28 years she rain Angeli Caffe, she was a great proponent of a style of cooking that leant heavily on what’s called “Cucina Povera”. The literal translation is “Cooking Poor”. It took root in Italy after the end of World War 1 and was in use for another 65 years.  Italy became richer and by the 1980s the style had fallen out of favor.  That’s a shame. Its basic principle was the use all of the ingredients in any given recipe to both maximize flavor and completely reduce waste. For instance, water used to simmer vegetables becomes the base for stocks, sauces or to cook pasta.  Leftovers form new dishes so that day old bread is fried and used as a pasta garnish instead of cheese. Chef Kleiman gets full credit for introducing Los Angeles to this genre of Italian cooking. 

This is what 34 cloves 
of Garlic look like 

The recipe for Pollo Arrosto, which, by the way, was reason all by itself for dining at Caffe Angeli, is an example of using every ingredient to great effect. One caveat: The original recipe called for 10 cloves of garlic. When I upped the quantities and made the corrections by weight of the chicken I was using. I came out with 34 cloves of garlic.  This was a ridiculous amount as you can see…so please adjust the garlic to your liking.  I ended up using about half of what I’d sliced. The remainder went into a jar with two cups of Olive Oil which should give us enough garlic-scented oil for a summer of salads.    Try this recipe and I think you’ll have a favorite new dinner party dish.  We served this with roasted potatoes and a green vegetable mélange.  So here’s to Chef Kleiman and here’s her recipe:


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