I am the testament that chicken can be cooked best when baked. Fried chicken is good and I have nothing against them especially on days when I don’t feel like cooking and pizza just won’t get it done sometimes (I know you get what I mean). So I order in a big tub of fried chicken. But that doesn’t happen often.
I stand by my belief that baking chicken makes it moister on the inside which is more important than having the crisp on the first bite. Why do I say that? A perfectly moist chicken makes you want to eat all of it. The crisp works only after a first few bites. When the crunch is gone, it’s goodbye to the rest of the meat.
Trust me, I have had to finish off plenty of chicken pieces with the skins gone. Baking it with lemon and the right herbs would bring out its essence especially when you’re generous with the lemon. When the baking is done, the aroma of lemon combined with herb would lift up many down spirits any time of the day.
- 2 large cloves garlic
- Coarse salt or sea salt
- 3 to 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 chicken thighs, trimmed of fat, rinsed, and patted dry
- 2 large lemons, each cut into six 1/4-inch rounds
- 1 bunch fresh rosemary, snipped into twelve 2-inch pieces
- 1 bunch fresh thyme, snipped into twelve 2-inch pieces
- 12 sage leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Begin by mashing up garlic with a pinch of salt using a mortar and pestle. You do this in order to create a coarse paste. Using the back of the spoon and a small mixing bowl would do the same trick. Add in the oil very slowly in drops as you pound and grind on the paste. Continue to do this until the allioli is thick, creamy and emulsified. Put the chicken in a bowl and rub this allioli all over. Rub it under the skin as well. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Heat up your oven to 425°F and set an oven rack in the middle. Using a large shallow roasting pan or a 9x13x2 inches baking dish, arrange lemon slices in one layer. Top each lemon slice with a piece of rosemary, thyme and sage leaf. Set the chicken thighs skin side up. Sprinkle the top with salt and pepper. Place it on the baking oven until the skin is golden and juices are clear. That usually takes 45 minutes to an hour.
- A lot of times, both the lemon and chicken would produce a lot of juice but you can create a delicious pan sauce out of that. Remove chicken from the pan. Transfer the lemon and herbs to a plate and place chicken on top. Cover it loosely with foil. Using a small skillet, heat up the juice until it thickens to a saucy consistency. Drizzle on the sauce around the chicken (and not on top) to maintain its crisp skin when served.