I hold this dish very close to my heart. It has a certain nostalgia about it that doesn't just remind me of family, but transports me to moments that have helped shape my career and my love affair with everything that is food, especially the rustic rawness of Sicilian cuisine. It would be a very special occasion where this roasted bird would hit a family gathering, perhaps Christmas, a christening or even just a wog barbecue where my nonna wanted to treat the family with something other than her famous impanata Siciliana, or crisp yet soft Sicilian doughnuts known as Sfinci di San Giuseppe.
Me being the "golden child" – the first male grandson and with the biggest appetite – I would always get first go at the bird and Nonna would always be eagerly awaiting my response as I devoured the crunchy rice bits that stuck to the side of the baking tray. Most times, only one bird would be cooked and there would be pushing and shoving to get a piece of chook (or sometimes turkey). I always thought it was my nonna's way of making us bond as we discussed the oily goodness. Now this dish is a special treat that I make for a family meal for staff at the restaurant, especially after we have a big, eventful week.