Don’t Be A Nut, Meg, Make Nutmeg Chicken!

I dedicate this post to Meg of Megnut.com because (a) hers was one of the first blogs I ever read, (b) she’s totally a cook, and (c) it really fits with our theme: invert the meg and the nut add a chicken and you’ve got nutmeg chicken.

The source for this recipe is the inviting and very very shiny Italian Easy from the River Cafe which I’ll link to now with a self-serving Amazon link:

This book stares at me from my coffee table time and time again and beckons, with a plaintive English accent: “Cook from me, chap? Won’t you?”

The nutmeg chicken or “chicken with nutmeg” is just the sort of recipe I can wrap a Sunday evening around. The prep time is minimal, the cook time is pleasantly long and there’s wine involved that I can drink during that pleasantly long cook time. The results are interesting and quirky, so I will give you the recipe.

Here are the ingredients:

4 lb organic chicken

1 lemon

1/2 whole nutmeg

4 prosciutto slices (I thought these might be expensive, but four slices from Whole Foods cost $2.)

1/2 cup white wine

Ex.v. olive oil

Here’s the wine I used. It cost $6 and I bought while talking on my cell phone so I didn’t pay much attention to what I was buying. Even if I had paid attention, I’d have no idea what I was doing. I know nothing about wine—the little I do know comes from “Sideways” and I remember that he likes Pinot, so here’s a Pinot.

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Any wine enthusiasts out there want to berate me and get me started on a path towards wine appreciation? I like the stuff! I drank 3 glasses of it tonight… may account for my drunken prose!

Now then, the recipe. Easy easy.

Heat the oven to 375 F.

Wipe the chicken clean and trim off all excess fat. Cut the lemon in half. Grate the nutmeg.

Rub the chicken all over with the lemon, squeezing the juice into the skin. Season the skin and inside the cavity with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Tuck the proscuitto slices into the cavity.

Put the chicken in a roasting pan, breast-side down, and drizzle with olive oil.

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Roast for 1 1/2 hours, basting from time to time. Add the wine after 30 minutes. Turn the bird breast-side up for the last 20 minutes. Serve with the juice from the pan.

Here’s my finished bird:

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A few reactions:

(1) The flesh is unbelievably tender. It may have to do with the use of lemon and wine, I’m not sure…I’m not Alton Brown…but this was one of the moistest chickens I’ve ever made;

(2) The skin, unfortunately, didn’t get crispy the way I like. Usually I roast the chicken on a rack but this recipe didn’t call for a rack. I feel like keeping it on the bottom of the pan with all that liquid is bound to uncrisp the skin, perhaps that’s the price you pay for tender meat;

(3) The sauce is delicious and I learnt this too late. I forgot to take her advice and serve with the juices from the pan: those juices are the best part! So I poured them into a tupperware and saved them for tomorrow’s leftover chicken. They smack of lemon, wine, chicken bits and nutmeg. Yum!

All in all, this isn’t my favorite roast chicken: that title still belongs to The Barefoot Contessa’s but this is a great alternative if you’re bored of garlic, lemon and thyme. I recommend it with a salad. And wine—leftover wine that you don’t use. You only use half a cup, so that’s plenty. Bottoms up!

3 comments

  1. Don’t Be A Nut, Meg, Make Nutmeg Chicken!“– seems like begging for a link from a better-read blogger. Especially since this post has nothing at all to do with her.

  2. (Oh please, like the AG has to beg for links!)

    Actually, when they refer to “pinot” in Sideways, they are referring to pinot noir, which is a red varietal. Pinot noir often tastes sorta like cherries, berries or tomatoes. The grapes are notorious for being tricky to grow, needing warm days and cooler nights, which means they grow it in California (especially northern), Oregon, Australia, etc. You often see it paired with leaner meats, sausages, Thanksgiving dinner. Good with creamy cheeses, too. It is a great summer red, fairly light for a warm day. Try a glass some time!

    In the movie, the point was that the character Miles preferred pinot noir to merlot (which is a very common California grape). Merlot sort of has a reputation, deserved or undeserved, of being the Applebees or TGI Friday’s of red wine varietals. Part of the reason, I think, is that it was overproduced in California for many years, and there wasn’t the same attention to quality. I think there are very good Merlots out there, but I tend to agree with Miles that a Pinot is often a better bet. (More expensive, too, unfortunately.) Apparently Sideways screwed with the merlot market and demand is lower, so it’s not very hip right now. Which means it will probably be hip again very soon.

    Now about what you drank. Pinot Grigio, which is also known as Pinot Gris, is a white varietal from grapes often grown in northern Italy, Oregon state and in Alsace. It is very light, crisp, some citrus flavors — and is a pretty reliable and usually inexpensive wine. You often hear it recommended to accompany lighter Italian food and fish and whatnot. It’s not the same as Pinot Noir at all. Just a similar prefix. Not that that having several glasses of wine and enjoying them is ever a bad thing. :)

  3. i love pinot gricio (and pinot gris) – been hooked on it for years. i find that a good, cheap pinot gricio is perfect for sipping while cooking – the flavor is usually fairly mild, so it goes down even – and often is farily crisp, so it is refreshing as well. VIVA LA PINOT GRICIO!

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