Ina’s Lemon Skillet-Roasted Chicken

There’s something very zen about watching Ina cook anything. I know other people do a lot of the prep work, but it’s calming, there aren’t a billion ingredients, the food she and Jeffrey love, I love! We ought to be best friends, but then she doesn’t live in Cave Creek, Arizona. Still, I can’t think of a recipe of hers that I’ve made, that wasn’t delicious. So, this is Ina’s recipe, with a couple of tweaks of my own, that I’ve made over and over again on Sunday evenings.

INGREDIENTS

  • teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Aleppo pepper. This adds a very gentle warmth to the herb mixture. I’m a huge fan of Savory Spice Store — their spices are fresh, and they ship quickly.
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil — and this truly matters! I’m a diehard Sagra fan that I buy in California because I guess Arizona has’t discovered it yet, but I also love Unio and Monini that are available on Amazon.
  • lemon, ends cut off, halved from end to end, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • yellow onion, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • (4-pound) chicken, backbone removed and butterflied. Here’s another Trisha note — it’s so hard to find small chickens — it seems 5 pounders are the norm in the US, but ask your butcher to start carrying a few — they’re so much quicker to cook.
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine. Ina and I like Pinot Grigio — but change it up! I’ve made this with Reisling, Chardonnay, and Viognier (my fave). Use what you most like to drink.
  • Juice of 1 lemon

INGREDIENTS

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • Place the thyme, fennel seeds, Aleppo pepper, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a mini food processor and process until ground. Pour the olive oil into a small glass measuring cup, stir in the herb mixture, and set aside for 10 minutes.
  • Distribute the lemon slices in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet and sprinkle the onion and garlic on top. Place the chicken, skin side down, on top of the onion and brush with about half the oil and herb mixture. Turn the chicken skin side up, pat it dry with paper towels (very important!), and brush it all over with the rest of the oil and herb mixture.
  • Roast the chicken for 30 minutes. Pour the wine into the pan (not on the chicken or the skin won’t crisp up) and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 155 to 160°F.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven, sprinkle it with the lemon juice, cover the skillet tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut the chicken into quarters or eighths, sprinkle with salt, and serve hot with the pan juices, cooked lemon, and onion.
  • Notes: Remove the ends of the lemon, cut in half through the stem ends, and slice thinly crosswise. Sometimes I sprinkle the chicken with minced fresh rosemary before allowing it to rest.
  • Make Ahead: Assemble the chicken in the pan and refrigerate for a few hours before roasting.

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