I’ll take savory over sweet any day. I’ll also take simple over complex, luscious over ascetic. This quick dinner of roast chicken thighs with Mediterranean flavors hits all those notes. Also my goodness that skin. This is my usual Frankenstein’s monster of multiple recipes plus my own whim, so I’ll go ahead and take credit for the way it appears here.
*Disclosure: Not only did I only take pictures with my phone, but it was also dark in my kitchen. I’d say “lesson learned,” except this will doubtless continue to happen. Who, when they are actually busy cooking, has time to stop and take photos? Not I.
- 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
- 3 t kosher or sea salt
- Black and hot pepper to taste
- 1/4 c flour (any; I used unbleached all-purpose)
- 1/3 c olive oil
- 4-5 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 8-10 cloves of garlic, peeled (or more! live a little!)
- 3 lemons, quartered
- 1 c mild olives, chopped or whole (Cerignolas or Castelvetranos; if you use briny ones, or a mix, adjust your other salt levels accordingly or just use fewer)
- 1/2-1 c chicken stock, white wine, or water
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Season chicken with salt and both peppers to taste.
- Dredge the skin-on side of the thighs lightly in flour; tap off excess.
- I absolutely stole this part from the NYT and I’m never going back to those sad, dark, pre-flour-dusted days.
- Heat oil in large roasting pan over high heat (or two oven-safe skillets–just don’t crowd the chicken pieces and adjust oil quantity if necessary). When shimmering, add chicken, skin side down. Cook until golden brown, 3-5 minutes.
- Flip the chicken so the skin side is up. Scatter olives, lemon pieces, garlic and rosemary over all, and add enough liquid to comfortably cover the bottom of your pan(s). Most of the chicken should be well above the liquid.
- I recommend leaving some of the olives whole, especially if you’re using large firm ones like the Cerignola. I cut an X on each one to help it absorb the cooking liquid. Made the olives incredibly tender and flavorful.
- Roast until chicken is done and delightfully crispy on top–25-30 minutes.
- Thigh meat is often dark or even pink (especially if you buy free range chicken) when done. It should read 165F on a meat thermometer or juices should run clear when cut near the bone.
I served with steamed cauliflower tossed in some butter and hot smoked paprika, with bread on the side for all the excellent juicy bits. (Leftovers the next night were excellent with roast broccoli salad and stuffing.) The bread deserves its own post at some point; it’s the King Arthur Flour no-knead bread recipe and it’s taking me some time to figure it out properly, but as you can see it is more than sufficient for excellent-juicy-bits duty.
This method is my favorite for large batches of chicken no matter what the flavor profile. Replace olives and lemon with quartered mushrooms and shallots, and rosemary with thyme. Maybe oranges, broccoli and dried chilis for a play on General Gao’s? (I just thought of this one and now I want to try it.) Or season the thighs with ras el hanout, replace half of the citrus with preserved lemon, and voila–Moroccan profile. So many options, so many easy weeknight dinners.