Lemon Chicken with Ace Frehley
All this before lunch.
He wasn’t trying to kill anybody, he was just showing us one of his toys. Ace had lots of toys. Fast cars, guns, guitars.
Ace used to play guitar in a band called KISS. I was at his house with my band BootCamp. We were recording our first EP in his studio, which was built into the side of a small hill underneath his Connecticut house.
Ace was under house arrest for driving his ridiculously expensive and exotic sports car the wrong way up the freeway while drunk. If you’re gonna be under house arrest, it might as well be in a place like Ace’s. It was pretty amazing, more like a castle than a house. It had gates – all it needed was a moat.
Ace would wander in and out while we recorded in the basement studio. It was a basement, yes – but it was more like a luxury bunker with a recording studio. It was plush, had all the latest gear; it was a real pro studio, ready to go. There was only one small problem.
The septic system was screwed up. So the whole place smelled faintly of – well let’s say it didn’t smell good. We were encouraged to go outside in the woods if we had to go to the bathroom.
Oh, the glamorous life of show biz. My band, BootCamp, was doing pretty well. We had a few videos on MTV that were making some noise. We had labels that were interested. Managers were calling. We got the attention of two guys who were the road managers for Van Halen. We signed with them. Our new managers thought we should do an EP. Our first single (we released it on vinyl) had done really well, and we needed a follow-up.
Our new managers thought we needed a producer, so they brought in Rob Sabino, who played keyboards in Chic. I loved Chic; loved the sound, the playing, and the production on those records –“Good Times”, “Le Freak”, “I Want Your Love”.
Rob got the job. Rob Sabino knew Ace Frehley from back in their early days in the Bronx. Rob suggested we record at Ace’s bunker. So that’s what we did. It was winter, there was snow on the ground, and we recorded in the Luxury Bunker, and slept in a small motel nearby.
Tom Alonso played keyboards, Bob Fallin played guitar, Hit Man Howie Z (known back then as Howard Zizzi) played drums, and I played bass and sang. When we started recording, I wasn’t getting warm and fuzzy feelings about what I was hearing. Maybe it was because I had just recently completed two weeks of complete vocal rest, and my voice sounded like one of the Chipmunks.
Maybe it was because I thought Ace might stroll in at any second and start waving his Uzi around, and accidentally fire some rounds into the ceiling. Ace was always strolling around. I think his cologne of choice must have been Eau de Rum and Coke, because that’s what it smelled like when he walked by. I will say this, Ace seemed like a happy guy. He had a slurry way of talking and always had a loopy grin on his face. Ace had a certain boozy charm, like Dudley Moore in Arthur.
Ace was proud of his toys. He showed us his collection of guitars. It was pretty extensive. He had all kinds of electric guitars – a lot of Gibsons – hanging from the ceiling on hooks. He had a guitar that shot flames out of the neck. When Ace showed us that guitar, he couldn’t get the fire to shoot out. I was kinda glad when he couldn’t get it to work. I was afraid he’d fry my new hairdo, which resembled a coonskin cap made of dark curly hair.
We recorded four songs in four days. When we finished, we packed up the truck, and waved goodbye to Ace and his castle and his busted septic tank. We drove in the freezing cold from Connecticut back to Baltimore. A few weeks later we got the songs back from The Luxury Bunker. It wasn’t my favorite recording of all-time.
That didn’t stop the EP from selling. It did extremely well. BootCamp got a ton of airplay. We were playing more gigs than ever. That EP led to a lot of really good things.
BootCamp had a really good run, nearly six years. Then we all went our separate ways. Tommy started doing film and TV work. Bob took over a company in Orlando and it took off. Howie started working the nightclub circuit around Maryland. He also plays bongos in the Slim Man band. And me?
Like Batman, Superman and Spider Man, I’m Slim Man—a superhero disguised as a singer; spanning the globe, fighting the forces of Evil while masquerading as a mild-mannered songwriter.
After a week of rocking and rolling all-night and partying every day, there’s nothing better than a home-cooked meal like lemon chicken.
This is such a simple dish to cook. It is my Mom’s recipe. She was an excellent cook, and not only did she cook a wide variety of cuisines — French, Italian, American, Indian, Mexican —she did them all authentically and deliciously.
I made lemon chicken the other night. As I was getting ready to stick it in the oven, I thought I might tie the legs together. They call it “trussing”, and it helps the chicken maintain its shape and cook more evenly. When real chefs truss a chicken, it’s complicated, and resembles minor surgery and requires a doctorate. Me? I simply tie the legs together. But I didn’t have anything to tie them with. I was thinking of using one of my old guitar strings, but I came to my senses and in a stroke of culinary cleverosity, decided to tie the chicken legs together with a piece of rosemary.
I’m a jenius! I poured a little olive oil over the rosemary after I tied it, to keep the leaves from crumbling. It looked really cool when it went in the oven. But after an hour and a half, the leaves turned dark green, almost black. You can remove the rosemary from the legs after the chicken is cooked, if you want. I left it on; I liked the way it looked.
I’ve cooked this dish a lot of times. This was by far best, there was an aroma and a taste that was pretty delizioso. I cooked the chicken in a large glass baking dish, uncovered.
Roasted sweet potato wedges go well with this dish. Check out my recipe on page XXX. The sweetness of the potatoes blends well with the lemoniness of the chicken. And you can cook both the sweet potatoes and the chicken at the same time.
Finally, whenever you handle raw chicken, you gotta be careful. Make sure you wear your HazMat suit when you handle raw chicken. Clean off every surface that raw chicken touches with soap, warm water, and a pressure washer. Bring out the heavy artillery and scrub-a-dub dub.
1 chicken, a whole chicken (I used a 4 pound chicken)
Salt and pepper
1 lemon, cut in half
3 sprigs rosemary, plus one long one to tie the chicken legs together
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a knife
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup chicken broth
Here we go…
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
Rinse off your chicken, inside and out. Pat dry – inside and out – with paper towels. Place the chicken in a large baking dish. Rub the chicken with olive oil. Rub your chicken! Sprinkle with salt and pepper, inside and out. I use fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt.
Put the 2 lemon halves inside the chicken – give them a gentle squeeze on the way in. Put 2 rosemary sprigs inside the chicken. Put 3 of the smashed garlic cloves inside the chicken.
Pour the wine and chicken broth into the bottom of the baking dish. Put a rosemary sprig and the garlic clove in with the wine and broth.
Take the remaining rosemary sprig, and tie the chicken legs together. Slim Folks! If I can do it, you can do it. Drizzle the rosemary sprig with a little olive oil, so the leaves don’t catch fire and burn down the McMansion.
Put the chicken in the oven. Most chickens these days have pop-up thermometers that let you know when your chicken is done. Meat thermometers come in handy for a dish like this. DO NOT use the thermometer you use for your dog. Or your kid. The minimum recommended temperature for poultry is 165 degrees. A 3 or 4 pound chicken should take about an hour and a half.
Baste your chicken every 15 minutes or so.
After an hour, start checking the temperature of the chicken every 15 minutes or so. When the chicken is done, take it out of the oven, Don’t be afraid to carve off a piece to make sure it’s done. If you cook it too long, it will be dry. It should be juicy, Lucy!
When the chicken is done, dish it up! Carve your chicken, put a couple slices on a plate, add a few roasted sweet potato wedges and…