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Slow-Roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken

Updated February 23, 2016
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This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This is one of those recipes you just can’t make once: that’s to say, after the first time, you’re hooked. It is gloriously easy: you just put everything in the roasting dish and leave it to cook in the oven, pervading the house, at any time of year, with the summer scent of lemon and thyme—and of course, mellow, almost honeyed garlic. I got the idea of it from those long-cooked French chicken casseroles with whole garlic cloves and just wanted to spritz it up with lemon for summer. The wonderful thing about it is that you turn the lemon from being a flavoring to being a major player; left-in chunks to cook slowly in the oven so they seem almost to caramelize, and you can eat them, skin, pith and all, their sour bitterness sweetened in the heat.

Serves6

Cooking Methodroasting

CostInexpensive

Moderate

Total Timeunder 4 hours

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, lactose-free

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Mealdinner

Moodblue

Taste and Textureherby, tangy

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken (approx. 3½ to 4 pounds), cut into 10 pieces
  • 1 head garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves
  • 2 unwaxed lemons, cut into chunky eighths
  • Small handful fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 tablespoons white wine
  • Black pepper

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Put the chicken pieces into a roasting pan and add the garlic cloves, lemon chunks and the thyme; just roughly pull the leaves off the stalks, leaving some intact for strewing over later. Add the oil and using your hands mix everything together, then spread the mixture out, making sure all the chicken pieces are skin-side up.

Sprinkle over the white wine and grind on some pepper, then cover tightly with foil and put in the oven to cook, at flavor-intensifyingly low heat, for 2 hours.

Remove the foil from the roasting pan, and turn up the oven to 400°F. Cook the uncovered chicken for another 30–45 minutes, by which time the skin on the meat will have turned golden brown and the lemons will have begun to scorch and caramelize at the edges.

I like to serve this as it is, straight from the roasting pan: so just strew with your remaining thyme and dole out.

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The breast pieces were dry and like sawdust, the wings which I usually prefer over the rest of the chicken tasted stewed not roasted. I could hardly bear to eat them. The others said the thighs were fine, but two and a half hours is just too long. Next time I would cook at 300 degrees about 45 minutes then turn up the heat to brown the skin the last 30 minutes....just a guess. I would also cut only one lemon into slices and place a slice on top each piece which would impart the lemon flavor to the meat better. I would move the slices from the tops for browning (but keep in pan) and brown as directed. Two lemons is too much for me. The pan juices were so sharp with lemon that I could not serve the au jus at table as I hoped I might. Also be aware that if you use a deep pan, the chicken won't brown well. I added salt. I'm very sorry to write such a negative review as some seem to like this recipe. If I had stopped to think about it I would have realized that the cooking time was just too long for such a delicate meat.

I like the dish but would make it with all dark meat (leg pieces) next time. This much cooking made the breast meat quite dry, which feels odd because it was basically simmered in liquid. And it definitely needed some salt.

This recipe is so great. I recommend adding a bit of salt to make it perfect.

I use this recipe often and the flavors are complex and fragrant. A household favorite.

Wow! Such a simple preparation, but the flavors that come out of this chicken are incredible. This is not the technically complex french cuisine, but a simple rustic dish that is both delicious and satisfying. I served my chicken over a bed of sauteed small potatoes and all the juices from the chicken were soaked up by them. This is definitely a recipe I will use again and again.

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