Da Paolino garlic lemon chicken

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Nina Parker's sumptuous lemon roast chicken recipe is packed with flavour. The bird is first marinated overnight in lemon, garlic and fennel seed, before a slow-roasting until tender and moist on a bed of fennel.

First published in 2016

Michela’s grandparents started their restaurant, Da Paolino, back in the 1950s. The garden surrounded by heavy hanging lemon trees became a popular hang-out and evolved into a restaurant. Today it serves more than a hundred covers a day, and the sun is almost totally blocked out by an enormous canopy of green and yellow. As you can imagine, lemon is hot on the menu, featuring in ravioli, limoncello, fish and chicken. I ordered a grilled chicken served on lemon leaves full of intense flavours. For this recipe, marinating the chicken overnight is key. Although the garlic might seem heavy-handed, it is absolutely essential once roasted and squeezed for their sweet purée. No kissing after this one, but I do promise a satisfying Sunday roast.

Recipes from NINA Capri by Nina Parker, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson on 2 June 2016 in hardback at £25, eBook £12.99

Food photography: Paul Winch-Furness

Location photography: Ivar Wigan




Da paolino garlic lemon chicken

  • 1.5kg chicken, whole, free-range
  • 3 garlic bulbs, separated and peeled (about 30 cloves)
  • 2 tsp pink peppercorns
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 6 lemons, 1 sliced, 5 halved
  • extra virgin olive oil, 2–3 tbsp
  • 3 fennel bulbs, quartered
  • salad leaves, to serve
  • 1 handful of chopped chives, to serve
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


The day before serving, add the chicken, half of the garlic cloves, peppercorns, fennel seeds, lemon slices and some olive oil to a bowl big enough to comfortably hold all of the ingredients and season liberally with salt and pepper
Mix everything to combine with your hands, then use the halved lemons and remaining garlic to stuff the cavity of the chicken. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge overnight to marinate
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5 and line a roasting tin with baking parchment
Transfer the contents of the bowl to the tray and add the fennel, making sure you coat it well in the marinade ingredients
Place the chicken on top, breast-side down, and season well. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes
After this time, remove the roasting tray from the oven and turn the chicken breast-side up, giving the vegetables a stir. Return to the oven for 35 minutes
Remove the tray from the oven once more and turn the bird over carefully. Squash some lemon pieces and garlic into the flesh and return to the oven for 15 more minutes, until golden
To see if the chicken is cooked, pull one of the legs away from the body – it should easily fall away once ready. Serve with the fennel, some salad and a sprinkling of chives

Discover more about this region's cuisine:

Nina Parker is a London based chef, author and director of her own catering company, NINA Food. Her latest book is Nina Capri, a collection of recipes from Italy's Amalfi coast.

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