Frankly Cindy

Rao’s Famous Lemon Chicken

A few weeks ago, I went on a cross country road trip with my friend Anna. One of our stops was in St. Louis to see her dad, Jim. We were hanging out in his kitchen when I saw an interesting cookbook on his counter. I am a cookbook junkie. I had to browse. It’s called Rao’s Cookbook Over 100 years of Cooking. Rao’s is a 100 year old restaurant located in East Harlem NY with only 10 tables. Nearly impossible to get a reservation. The Cookbook not only shares the restaurant’s recipes but also has stories, quotes and history.

I couldn’t put it down. Not only is it entertaining but the recipes looked amazing. Note to self. Get it.
The next morning as we were getting ready to leave, Jim handed me a bag and said, it’s a gift for you to thank you for keeping Anna company. “But don’t open it now”. I opened it once we were on the road and couldn’t believe it. He had gone out and bought me the cookbook. I was touched by his thoughtfulness to say the least. I couldn’t wait to use it. Jim had mentioned that one of his favorite recipes was the Lemon Chicken. So Jim, this is for you. It is as good as you said it was!

The recipe is easy, simple and delicious.

Thank you Jim and thank you Rao’s!

Print Recipe

Rao's Famous Lemon Chicken

Yield: Serves 6

Prep Time: Total time 1 hour


2 21/2 to 3 pound chickens halved 

1/4 cup italian parsley

Lemon sauce (recipe below)


Lemon Sauce

2 cups fresh lemon juice         1 1/2 tsp minced garlic

1 cup olive oil                        1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 TBS red wine vinegar          salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together juice, oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  Whisk or shake vigorously before using.



  1. Preheat broiler for at least 15 minutes
  2. Broil chicken halves, turning once for about 30 minutes or until skin is golden brown and juices run clear (I used chicken pieces already cut up to save time)
  3. Remove chicken from broiler, leaving broiler on. Using a sharp knife cut each half into 6 pieces (leg,thigh,wing, 3 small breast pieces)
  4. Place chicken on a baking sheet with sides.  Pour 1/2 the Lemon Sauce over the chicken and toss to coat well.
  5. Return to broiler and broil for 3 minutes.  Turn each piece over and broil an additional minute.
  6. Remove from broiler and portion onto 6 plates.
  7. Pour remaining sauce into a heavy saucepan.  Stir in parsley and place over high heat for 1 minute.  Pour an equal amount of sauce over the chicken.  Serve with lots of crusty bread to absorb the sauce.

Rao's Cookbook Over 100 Years of Italian Home Cooking 

Frank Pellegrino


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