Prosciutto & Ricotta Whole Roasted Chicken with Balsamic Leek & Onions

Sunday dinner? Done.  Easter dinner?  Done.  Casual dinner with friends? Done.  This recipe is perfect for so many occasions.  It does takes about an hour and a half to cook but only 15 minutes to prep and once it’s in the oven you don’t have to do a thing.  And the melt-in-your mouth balsamic onion and leek mixture is the perfect compliment to the dish.  It’s almost like a thick sauce served underneath the chicken.  There is a ton of flavor from the juices during the roasting process and just the right amount of acid and sweetness from the aged balsamic.  But my absolute favorite part of the dish is the contrast of the crispy crunch prosciutto to the creamy, lemony ricotta and spinach mixture.  You can make this dish earlier in the day and then refrigerate it and reheat before serving. Serve whole on a platter for a dramatic presentation, and carve table side or alternatively I also like to carve ahead of time by cutting the breasts off whole and then slicing them against the grain into 2 inch thick pieces; then everyone is sure to get a taste of everything in every bite. If I cut it ahead of time I still serve on a platter on top of the onions. Trust me when I say this is one you’ll want to make again and again for entertaining at home.

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and prepare a large roasting pan.  Add the onions and leeks to the bottom of the roasting pan and coat evenly with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Drizzle the balsamic over the top.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, fresh spinach, zest and 2 teaspoons lemon juice, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt & pepper.  Mix to combine.
  3. Place the chicken, breast side up, on the leek and onion mixture.  Season inside and out with salt and pepper.  Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the lemon halves from the 2 lemons.  Carefully push the ricotta spinach mixture under the skin of the chicken breasts. Start with 1 teaspoon at a time.  As you add more gently push it further down the chicken towards the tail by holding the skin with one hand and pressing on top of the skin to move the mixture with the other, covering as much of the chicken as possible without tearing the skin.  Continue until mixture is done.
  4. Tie the legs of the chicken with twine and tuck the wings under the chicken.  Place Prosciutto over the chicken breasts, overlapping slightly for full coverage.  Melt the olive oil and butter mixture and brush generously over the top of the Prosciutto and exposed chicken skin, keeping remaining mixture.
  5. Roast uncovered for 60 minutes.  After 30 minutes or so mix the onions around and tuck underneath the chicken so it gets the flavor from the juices and doesn’t burn.  Baste chicken with any remaining olive oil and butter mixture.  Continue cooking for another 30 minutes and then reduce temperature to 375 degrees and loosely cover.  Mix the onions around again and tuck under the bird.  Continue cooking for another 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the bird, or until the juices run clear.  Remove and let rest.
  6. Using a slotted spoon remove the onion and leek mixture from the pan, draining off any fat.  Pick over it to remove any pieces that are too crispy. You can add a dash of vinegar to the mixture if desired for a touch of acid. Place the leek and onion mixture on a platter and the chicken on top and serve with fresh lemon halves (roasted if desired).

1 whole organic chicken, rinsed and patted dry

1/2 cup fresh whole milk Ricotta cheese

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup fresh spinach, chopped

4 lemons, divided  (Zest of 1 lemon and 2 teaspoons juice for ricotta mixture), 2 lemons cut in half cross wise, 1 lemon for garnish)

1 clove garlic, minced

Pinch red pepper flakes

5 slices Prosciutto

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Salt & Pepper

Onion & Leeks

2 sweet onions cut in half then into ½- inch slices

3 leeks, sliced lengthwise and rinsed then cut on the diagonal into ½ pieces

3 Tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Salt & Pepper

Serves 6-8
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