Monday, April 16, 2012

rosemary lemon chicken

Chicken is one of those foods that took awhile to grow on me. It has the potential to be incredibly bland, and if not prepared well it's just boring. I ate a lot of boring chicken growing up, I think.

As a cook, though, chicken excites me. Chicken plays so well with a variety of flavours, and I find it's quite forgiving of different combinations. It goes well with hot, spicy flavours or more complex, woody flavours, it suits bright flavours and it goes well with subtle flavours, not overwhelming things. There are so many things to do with chicken: pot pies, fried chicken, in a soy marinade or in a mushroom sauce. And those are just a few favourites. People go on about buttermilk marinaded chicken, which is on my to do list later.

Today's chicken is a fairly simple recipe. It's so basic I almost don't want to call it a recipe, actually. It's also delicious. I'm sure that you could easily enough adapt this to a whole chicken, or use different parts. I've used a marinade, but if you don't have as much time this could just as easily be a rub for the chicken. I used rosemary because it excited me but I know that this would be equally delicious with another strong herb. (I almost went with sage, which would have been a completely different flavour profile).

Ingredients:
  • 6 chicken thighs
    • I used bone in, skin on. If you prefer boneless and/or skinless, just adjust your cooking times
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large lemon, juiced and zested
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, mix together olive oil, lemon zest and juice, salt and garlic. Pull the leaves off the rosemary sprigs, add to the mix. Wisk to thoroughly combine all ingredients of the marinade.
  2. Place chicken in bowl with your marinade. Rub everything around so that each piece of chicken is evenly coated with the marinade.
  3. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight. (Alternately, transfer the chicken and marinade to Ziploc freezer bag.)
    1. Note: I found that the marinade congealed a little bit when chilled. Don't worry. It's all about the flavour.
Wait awhile. Come back to things.
  1. Preheat your oven to 350* F.
  2. Bring a large cast iron skillet to medium high heat. (You don't need to add any oil, because you've got a few tablespoons in your marinade. If you chicken is skin on, you're even better.)
  3. When the skillet is hot, place your chicken pieces in the pan, skin side down. Let this sear about five minutes.  What we're looking for here is a nice golden crust on the skin side of your thighs. Because crispy chicken skin is one of the best parts here.
  4. Flip your chicken so the skin side is up. Sear a further two minutes on the other side. (I don't worry about getting too much a sear on the non-skin side, because I don't find it makes as big of a difference, taste wise.)
  5. Transfer your skillet to the oven. Cook for 35-40 minutes. Test your chicken for doneness, as no one likes raw chicken. There are two methods.
    1. Insert a meat thermometer. Easiest way to tell.
    2. Cut into a thigh - things should be completely white, not pink.
  6. Let your chicken rest about 5 minutes.
  7. Eat. Enjoy. Serve with mashed potatoes and a lovely roasted veggie.
Also: You can totally make a gravy with this, but you really don't have to.

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