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A Modern Cleveland exclusive! This old northern Italian dish is the most tender chicken I have ever tasted! The chicken melts completely off the bone---the secret is by slow cooking it in foil at a lower temperature, all the juices are trapped in.

This recipe comes courtesy of Anita and Bella Magi of Sandusky, who are the sisters of Aldo P. Magi. Mr. Magi co-founded the Thomas Wolfe Society, has the largest private collection of Thomas Wolfe material in the world, and is author of numerous publications on Wolfe.

This is an old recipe of their mother's. She was from Gabicce, a farm village in northern Italy near the Adriatic coast; Mr. and Mrs. Magi emigrated to America in the early 20th century, where they raised their family in Sandusky, Ohio.

Mrs. Magi's Roast Chicken

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees (or 350 degrees, if chicken is between 5 and 7 pounds).
  2. Wash chicken and place in center of pan.
  3. Sprinkle rosemary and salt in cavity.
  4. Stick whole garlic cloves in the neck, bottom cavity, and around the body. (My variation is to make several slits on the skin, and slip thick garlic slices in.)
  5. Surround the chicken with peeled potatoes.
  6. Pour canola oil over the potatoes.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste, on both the chicken and the potatoes.
  8. Cover entire baking pan tightly with aluminum foil.
  9. Place it in heated oven.
  10. For a crispier skin, you may remove the foil after an hour or so, and raise the temperature to no more than 350 degrees; you can also occasionally baste with oil if necessary (it usually isn't).
  11. Let it bake for a total of 2 1/2 hours. Additional cooking at low temperature won't hurt it (we've had it in for four hours).

The Magis usually serve it with a green salad. I like to serve with bread and butter and a good Italian white wine (German Riesling is also good). This is delicious as it is straight out of the oven, or with a good bar-be-que sauce -- my commercial over-the-counter recommendations for this dish include "The Jug," sold in the rusty red plastic jug, and the "Chicken 'N Ribs" sauce by Carriage House.

Anita says you can also use chicken parts (drumsticks, breasts, thighs, etc) and you can make Italian pork roast with this method as well. I have substituted yams for the potatoes with great success.

This is a versatile recipe, yet its low cost and simplicity makes it the perfect kind of recipe for church benefits and take-out service. All you have to do is take it home and put it in the oven!