Monday, August 19, 2013

'Borgia Style' Roasted Chicken with Pancetta and Lime (plus a Giveaway!)

Do you enjoy reading blogs devoted to historical recipes?  I haven't ventured so far as to try any of these recipes before, but I definitely love reading about the techniques and ingredients used by cooks, bakers, and chefs of the past.  A couple of my favorites are Inn at the Crossroads, a Game of Thrones blog that features medieval and modernized recipes based on dishes in the books; and Kitchen Historic, a blog by a history student who makes recipes from old cookbooks from a variety of periods.  So, I was excited to get an email about Kate Quinn's new book, The Serpent and the Pearl.  Although the book doesn't have detailed recipes in it, one of the main characters is a medieval cook and the descriptions of her food will seriously make your mouth water!  Kate was kind enough to share with me one of the medieval recipes she researched for the book and her modern interpretation.  Plus, see the end of this post for a giveaway!

I've included below both the medieval recipe and Kate's modernized version.  I'm happy to report that the chicken was fantastic!  Sliding pancetta under the chicken skin makes it extra crisp and delicious, and keeps the chicken moist.  It did create a lot more fat in the bottom of the pan than my usual roasted chicken recipe, which spattered and made our apartment pretty smoky.  Next time, I would roast the chicken on a bed of sliced potatoes to soak up the fat and keep it contained a little better.  After cooking, the chicken gets a bright boost of flavor from lime juice.  I've only ever done chicken with lemon juice, so lime was a great change of pace and really balanced the rich pancetta and chicken skin nicely.  Yum!

Spit-roasted capon with lime

When [the capon] has been plucked and drawn, blanch it in boiling water, then take it out and stick it with fine lardoons of pork fat.  Then put it on a spit and cook it over a moderate fire at the outset; as it begins to drip, give it a sprightly fire so that the cooking will not dry it out.  If it is not larded, baste it with melted rendered fat or lard.  When it is done, serve it hot with orange juice or lime juice over it.

'Borgia Style' Roasted Chicken with Pancetta and Lime (adapted from Kate Quinn)
Serves 4

Note: This dish can also be prepared on the grill, 'beer can style,' to get more of that rotisserie feel.  I don't have a grill (ah, apartment living!), so I just roasted the chicken and basted it often.

1 large chicken
2-3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta [or, use sliced pork fat, well rinsed, if you can find it]
2 limes
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and spray a baking dish with oil.
2. Gently loosen the skin of the chicken.  Slip the slices of pancetta under the skin, trying to keep it in one layer as much as possible.  Aim to cover the breasts and drumsticks.  Wrap each wing with one piece of pancetta (outside the skin).
3. Quarter one of the limes, and stuff into the cavity of the chicken.  Tie the legs together with a piece of kitchen twine.  Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper.
4. Place the chicken in the baking dish, breast side up.  Roast for 35 minutes.  Then, rotate the pan and reduce heat to 375 degrees.  Continue roasting, basting occasionally, until the until juices from the thigh run clear or when a thermometer in the thigh reads 165 degrees, about 20 to 25 minutes more.
5. Carve the chicken.  Squeeze lime juice from the second lime over the cut pieces, and season with more salt and pepper as needed.

Giveaway Time!  I received a free review copy of The Serpent and the Pearl, and I really enjoyed it. Now, I'd love to pass it along to one of you.  While I love my Nook and the convenience of ebooks, one huge benefit of paperbacks is the easy ability to share them with friends once you're done reading.  This was a great summer read, and I think anyone who enjoys historical fiction or shows like The Borgias and The Tudors would love this book.  Since I'll be mailing this myself, U.S. addresses only, please.  Just leave a comment telling me your favorite summer read if you'd like to enter!

Note: Forgot to mention this when I first posted, but I will leave the giveaway open for a week, so you have until August 26 to enter!


  1. I can't say I've ever tried a historical recipe....but what a cool endeavor!

  2. I have never had a historical meal before or have I tried any type of historical recipe. In fact this is the first time that I have heard of it. The meal looks delicious and simple to make! I should try this at home very soon.

  3. My favorite read this summer is A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams. Really enjoying The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig that I am reading now. Both historical but in the 20th century.

  4. My favourite read this summer was probably Deep Storm by Lincoln Child. I absolutely loved the setting and characters. It's not historical, but it's still amazing!

  5. My favorite summer read so far has been A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin. I am dying to read Kate Quinn's new book! I've read all of her books and she is an amazing writer.

  6. My favorite read this summer was Deanna Raybourn's "A Spear of Summer Grass." This novel brought 1920s Africa to life. Made me want to visit and I hate the heat and bugs.

  7. I'm glad the recipe came out well for you, Sara! (Good idea about the potatoes; I'm trying that next time.) Thanks so much for hosting my book on your blog.

    1. Hi, thanks for stopping by! I really enjoyed your book! :)

  8. That looks delish! I'm reading The Boleyn Deceit and I like it!!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  9. I love the idea of putting the chicken in lardon! Here's a tip, if you can't find pork fat in your grocery store, just ask the butcher and they will get some for you - usually its the scraps they have when the trim the pork.

    1. Oooh, great tip! I didn't even think of that, but I bet it would work! :)

  10. I've read so many good books this summer, but my favorite so far has been Killing Sarai. I can't wait to read The Serpent and the Pearl, I love Kate Quinn's books!

  11. I often seek out old cookbooks to what what people ate way back. But I'd call them vintage more than historical. Your history making capon looks fab. GREG