Pollo Al Forno

Serving Size: 4
Prep Time:
Total Time:

Here is a genuine Italian chicken dish--sublime, classic--a farm bird best roasted at an outdoor wood-burning oven with potatoes, lemon, and herbs, just like Mama Carmela Vacca cooked for me in the outdoor wood-burning oven at Villa Natalia. As with Chicken Cacciatore, you can cook the chicken with the skin on. Simply remove the skin after cooking and you'll have a super-succulent meat and great flavor without the calories.


  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 3 1/2-pound all-natural farm-raised chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/8 inch thick, using a mandoline
  • 0.5 Ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated



Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a large baking dish with cooking spray.

Place the chicken on a clean work surface. Cut 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices from the lemon and stuff the remaining lemon in the cavity of the chicken. Place 1 lemon slice between the meat and skin of each breast, then place 1 lemon slice between the meat and skin of each thigh. Place 1 sprig of rosemary under each lemon slice, nestling it between the meat and the lemon slice. Lightly coat the chicken with cooking spray and season it all over with salt and pepper. Place in the baking dish and transfer to the middle rack of the oven.

Cook the chicken until the skin is browned and the meat is fully cooked. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. When the thermometer readers 155°F, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest tented with aluminum foil for at least 15 minute. Do not skip the resting step.

Transfer the chicken to a plate and remove and discard the skin, reserving the rosemary and lemon slices. Pour the cooking juices from the pan into a small clear plastic container and let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes to let the fat separate. Place the container above the baking dish and poke a hole in the bottom of it to allow all of the fat-free decanted cooking juices to be released; quickly move the container before the fat on top comes through the hole. You can use a gravy decanter for this step if you have one.

Turn the oven off and place the zucchini in the baking dish with the chicken broth to just cook through during the next step.

Remove the chicken meat from the bones, cutting each breast in half and separating each thigh from the leg. Divide the meat among 4 plates. Everyone gets half a breast; 2 people will get a thigh, and 2 people will get a drumstick. Divide any remaining meat among the plates.

Remove the zucchini from the oven, sprinkle with the Parmigiano, and place it alongside the chicken on the plates. Pour the remaining cooking juices over the plates and place 1 lemon slice on each plate.

Tip: Take the chicken out of the refrigerator an hour before cooking to bring it to room temperature and ensure an evenly cooked and moist bird.

Not All Chicken "Tastes Like Chicken": The catchphrase "tastes like chicken" comes from eating too much factory-farmed livestock. Commercially raised chicken is bland and inpipid. Invest a little more in a true farm-raised, free-range, organic, air-chilled chicken and "tastes like chicken" may lose all its meaning.

Check out the video playlist above to watch Rocco make this recipe.

In "Now Eat This! Italy," watch New York Times best-selling author and celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito as he travels to Italy to learn how to make all our favorite Italian dishes from the real Mamas of Italy like lasagna Bolognese with Lucia Ercolano, Spaghetti Vongole with Daniella Miccio and Insalata Caprese with Maria Ercolano. In this unique intersection of travel, adventure, culinary and healthy Rocco answers the question, "Can you eat pasta and lose weight?"

Produced: 2013 By: Savory Place Media