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Lemongrass Roast Chicken

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Serves four.

Yields 2/3 cup sauce.

A last-minute basting of a lemongrass and cilantro paste gives this dish a wonderful aroma. The tangy ginger-lime dipping sauce is also great with other roasted or grilled meats and with steamed fish.

For the chicken:
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped lemongrass (3 or 4 stalks)
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped shallots
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
  • 4-1/2 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 whole chicken (3 to 4 lb.), rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
For the ginger-lime dipping sauce:
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Thai bird chiles or other hot fresh chiles, cored and seeded
  • 1 tsp. chile paste
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice, with pulp
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 Tbs. granulated sugar
Prepare the chicken:

In a nonreactive dish large enough to hold the chicken, combine all but 2 Tbs. of the lemongrass with all of the shallots, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, salt, and sugar. Add the chicken and turn it to coat, tucking some of the marinade underneath its skin. Pour any excess marinade into the bird’s cavity. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. Bring the chicken to room temperature before cooking it.

Heat the oven to 350°F. Put the chicken, breast side down, on a rack in a roasting pan. Cook for 40 minutes. Turn the bird over and roast until the chicken is cooked and nicely browned, 20 to 30 minutes. The sugar in the marinade may cause the pan juices to burn, but this won’t affect the chicken’s flavor. 

Make the dipping sauce:

With a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, chiles, chile paste, and ginger to a paste. Transfer the paste to a small bowl and add the fish sauce, lime juice, water, and sugar. Mix until well blended. Allow the sauce to sit for at least 10 minutes to let the flavors develop.

Finish the dish:

About 10 minutes before the chicken is done, combine the remaining 2 Tbs. lemongrass with the cilantro and vegetable oil. Using a spoon, rub the mixture on the bird, spreading it evenly; continue roasting. The chicken is done when its juices run clear. Let the chicken sit for 10 minutes out of the oven before carving. Serve with ginger-lime dipping sauce.

Drink Suggestions

Fruity-floral Rieslings and Gewürztraminers are ideal. Try Kabinett-level Rieslings from Gunderloch and Zilliken. Or try these varietals: from California, Edmeades’ Mendocino Gewürztraminer or Bonny Doon’s Pacific Rim Riesling; or from the Pacific Northwest, Amity Gewürztraminer of Oregon or Hogue Riesling from Washington.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : using 3-lb. chicken; Calories (kcal): 460; Fat (g): 26; Fat Calories (kcal): 230; Saturated Fat (g): 6; Protein (g): 46; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11; Carbohydrates (g): 10; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 6; Sodium (mg): 1650; Cholesterol (mg): 145; Fiber (g): 1;

Photo: Alan Richardson

I have been making this for years. The original magazine recipe is so stained and tattered that I have to go online for the ingredients list. The chicken is moist and tender and the dipping sauce is to die for. I serve this over saffron studded Jasmine rice along with simply steamed snap peas and a refreshingly cool Thai cucumber salad with chopped peanuts. My husband always requests that we not have guests so he can have more for himself. Slightly laborious, but well worth it.

Fantastic chicken! The whole family inhaled this dish. The chicken was tender, juicy and full of flavor. Roasting times were right on. Served with some stir-fried Thai cabbage and carrots followed by coconut rice pudding for a great meal.

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