Roast Chicken works no matter what cut of chicken you
have on hand, but juicy bone-in chicken thighs are a
was a kid, there were mornings when it didnít take a
rocket scientist to figure out what we would be having for
breakfast, a frozen slab of chicken ó usually the
bargain-priced family pack from the Red Owl meat department
ó would materialize next to the skim milk in our harvest
gold Amana side-by-side, initiating its daylong defrost.
meet the demands of feeding her family, my mother spent lord
knows how many hours at the stove, browning vast quantities
of hamburger, the protein of choice in 1970s middle America.
Mom also occasionally relied upon a handful of chicken
recipes, each designed to get dinner on the table as quickly
as possible. They would appear, like clockwork, every few
weeks, in rotation with other low-effort classics such as
corn-and-Tater Tot hot dish, hamburger goulash and creamed
salmon with Festal canned peas over Pillsbury biscuits.
same way that Mom ignored the existence of Hamburger Helper,
ours was not a Shake íN Bake household. But that didnít
keep my industrious mother from utilizing supermarket
the menu called for chicken, one of Momís rituals invoked
a well-worn Corningware casserole, a can of Campbellís
cream of chicken soup and an envelope of Lipton onion soup.
Another required dredging pieces in crushed cornflakes ó
or was it Rice Krispies? ó and baking.
judge. It was the 1970s, after all. Our wardrobes were
similarly appalling. And donít get me started on the
psychedelic wallpaper that violated the dining room walls in
our Burnsville split-entry.
several decades. How did I survive all those years without
what has become my go-to chicken dinner recipe?
ĎNEW COMFORT FOODí
hails from a Saveur magazine cookbook, and itís one of the
reasons why "The New Comfort Food: Home Cooking From
Around the World" immediately became the type of
trustworthy title that is the backbone of every kitchen
it was published in 2011, the book has certainly sparked
plenty of happy moments in our kitchen, from flawless
buttermilk flapjacks and Iíll-never-bake-any-other
Snickerdoodles to the ultimate in mac and cheese and, of
course, this fail-proof roast chicken.
about the epitome of an easy yet utterly satisfying supper.
Prep time is less than 15 minutes, and once the chicken is
in the oven, the air becomes redolent with garlic and
citrus, teasing the appetite of anyone within sniffing
continually amazed how the alchemy of just five ingredients
ó OK, seven, if you count the salt and pepper ó have the
power to become something extraordinary, particularly on an
ordinary Tuesday night. One taste and itís easy to see why
lemon, garlic, rosemary and olive oil are such bedrock
Italian flavors, and how they can humbly yet completely
transform plain-old chicken into something remarkable.
recipe is flexible, too. The cookbookís version instructs
cooks to "marinate for about an hour," and I
prefer that outcome; the flavors are brighter, particularly
when it comes to the garlic. But my schedule doesnít
always afford the luxury of two pre-dinner hours, and Iíve
come to appreciate the mellow charms that come from an
all-day marinade, one thatís pulled together just before I
start my morning commute.
original formula calls for a whole chicken, cut into eight
pieces. Iíve prepared it that way, but trial and error
have taken me in all kinds of successful directions, usually
in response to purchasing whateverís on sale. Iíve tried
drumsticks, a wings fun-pack, boneless and skinless breasts.
You name it, and Iíve never been disappointed.
experience has led me to stick with thighs, preferably those
retaining their bones and skin; the dark, juicy meat really
holds up under the ovenís hot temperature, and it makes
for the tastiest leftovers.
oh, my gosh, the leftovers. This is one roast chicken that
is utterly delicious when served cold the next day.
shopping for this recipe is a snap. Since we are rarely
without garlic and olive oil, I can pull dinner together on
the fly with a count-to-three supermarket run, buying one of
those produce-department plastic packages of fresh rosemary,
two lemons and three(-ish) pounds of chicken thighs.
reason to love: Each time I prepare this recipe ó itís a
favorite of my husbandís, so Iíve rolled it out probably
a dozen times since January ó I get better at it.
happy development always reminds me of some sage advice that
Christopher Kimball ó the founder of the Cookís
Illustrated/Cookís Country/Americaís Test Kitchen media
juggernaut ó once shared with me. And, subsequently, Star
secret is limiting your recipe repertory," he said.
"It doesnít need to be huge; thatís why you go out
to dinner. No more than 50 recipes, and stick to them. Thatís
how you become a good cook. You canít get good at it
unless you do it all the time."
from chef Evan Kleiman of Angeli Caffe in Los Angeles in
"The New Comfort Food: Home Cooking From Around the
World" (Chronicle Books, $35), edited by James Oseland.
cup extra-virgin olive oil
cup fresh rosemary leaves
cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
cloves garlic, thinly sliced
lemon, peel and seeds removed, pith and pulp chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into 8 or 9 pieces
large bowl, combine olive oil, rosemary, lemon juice,
garlic, lemon and salt and pepper to taste.
a ceramic or glass baking dish just large enough to hold
chicken in a single layer. Brush about 1/4 of marinade
across bottom of baking dish. Arrange chicken, meaty side
up, over marinade, then pour remaining marinade over
chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 12
ready to cook, preheat oven to 475 degrees. Remove plastic
wrap, turn chicken over, spoon any excess marinade over
chicken and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, turn
chicken over (so chicken is meaty side up) and roast for an
additional 15 to 25 minutes, until chicken is cooked through
and browned. Remove from oven and serve with rice, potatoes
or buttered noodles.