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Pucker up for famous lemon chicken

A keen hunger for crispy-skin chicken corresponds in my older son to a nearly unquenchable thirst for lemons and lemon juice.

This dish would satisfy some of his strongest cravings, courtesy of a restaurant we’ll almost certainly never experience. At least Rao’s in New York City has a cookbook that shared its “Famous Lemon Chicken” with the world.

Indeed, one of the most famous Italian restaurants in the United States, the 125-year-old Rao’s in Harlem has assigned tables to its regular for decades. Literally impossible to reserve, tables are rather inherited by the heirs’ of regulars upon their death.

So it’s probably not a stretch to call this chicken to-die-for.

Tribune News Service photo

Rao’s Famous Lemon Chicken

2 cups fresh lemon juice

1 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 (3 to 3 1/2 pound) chickens, halved

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 425 F. Place racks in top and bottom thirds of oven.

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate if not using within several hours. Whisk or shake vigorously before using.

Season the chicken halves with the salt and pepper, place on 2 baking sheets and roast in preheated oven for 30 minutes, turning once. Cook longer if using larger chickens.

Remove chicken from oven and preheat broiler. With a very sharp knife, cut each half into 6 pieces (leg, thigh, wing, 3 small breast pieces). Pour sauce over chicken and toss to coat well. If necessary, divide sauce in half and do this in 2 batches.

Broil 1 pan of chicken for 3 minutes. Turn each piece and broil for an additional minute. Keep that chicken warm while repeating with other pan.

Place chicken on serving platter or individual plates. Pour sauce into a heavy saucepan. Stir in the parsley and place over high heat for 1 minute. Pour sauce over chicken and serve with lots of crusty bread to absorb sauce.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.