Spit-roasted chicken and potatoes in foil, eaten on a park bench in winter is one of my great memories from my trips to Sicily. I bought this fabulous takeaway dish from one of the many family-run eateries dotted around Catania. The handcut potatoes cooked in the juices dripping from the chickens added another dimension to the repast. There are lots of different flavors here, and the combination stimulates all the taste buds. It is very easy to increase the stuffing in order to make this dish serve more people.
– 4 onions, thinly sliced.
– 3½oz (100g) black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped.
– 5 fresh rosemary sprigs, chopped.
– 4 garlic cloves, halved and any green inner shoot discarded.
– 2 small dried red chilies, crushed.
– 2 tbsp olive oil plus a little extra.
– juice of 1 lemon.
– 4 poussins or baby chickens, about.
– 1lb 2oz (500g) each.
– salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step 2: Heat a little oil in a heavy ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat. Season the outside of the chickens with salt and pepper. Brown the chickens in the pan, turning once to brown on all sides. When browned, transfer the whole pan to the oven and roast for 30–35 minutes until the meat is tender, basting regularly with all the roasting juices. (If cooking a larger chicken, allow a longer cooking time—usually 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes or so.) To check, insert the tip of a small knife near the bone; if the juices run clear, the chicken is cooked.
Step 3: Serve the chickens with piping-hot home-made french fries or roasted potatoes, or with a green salad with bitter and peppery leaves. Note To try to be more authentic (but without using a spit or rotisserie), place a pan of hand-cut french fries splashed with a little olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper at the bottom of the oven while you are cooking the chicken. Put the chicken on a rack above the potatoes, so that all the juices drip onto the potatoes. Turn the potatoes regularly during cooking, and pour any leftover juices from inside the chicken over the top just before serving.