Cast Iron

Shaheen Peerbhai & Jennie Levitt's Cold-Oven Roast Chicken

June  5, 2018
42 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

This recipe is a boon in warm weather, because you don’t preheat the oven at a ripping 500° F. In fact, you don’t preheat the oven at all. The technique Shaheen Peerbhai & Jennie Levitt spun together for their Friday Lunch series in Paris is one that they now use for every gently cooked chicken salad and sandwich, for picnics and beyond—and it’s already become one of the most popular recipes in their book. Adapted slightly from Paris Picnic Club (Sterling Epicure, 2018). To read the full story, head here. —Genius Recipes

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Shaheen Peerbhai & Jennie Levitt's Cold-Oven Roast Chicken
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • 8 chicken thighs (or 1 whole chicken)
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled but kept whole
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 to 5 fresh sage leaves
  • Peel and juice of 1 lemon (the yellow part of the peel only, using a vegetable peeler)
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In This Recipe
  1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and rub it all over with coarse sea salt. Loosen the skin with your fingertips and rub the salt into the flesh, and then pull the skin back over it. Let the salted chicken rest for 15 minutes. (If you have time to do this for longer, even overnight in the refrigerator, do!)
  2. Coat the bottom of a lidded cast iron pot (or another ovenproof pot) with the olive oil. (Choose a large pot with enough room that the chicken won't be too packed in—it should have a bit of room to breathe around each piece.) Add the garlic cloves, rosemary, thyme, sage, and lemon peel. Place the chicken on top (skin side up for thighs, breast side up for whole chicken). Squeeze the lemon juice over it, and then season with salt and pepper. Cover the pot with the lid.
  3. Place the pot in a cold oven. Turn up the temperature to 450°F (225°C) and cook the chicken for 30 minutes for thighs or 45 for whole chicken, then remove the lid and cook until the skin is golden and crisped, about 15 minutes. To make sure the chicken is cooked, the flesh shouldn’t be pink on the inside or should measure 165° F (75° C) with an instant-read thermometer. If the juices in the bottom evaporate too quickly and look like they're beginning to burn, you can pour a little water in the bottom of the pan.
  4. Remove the pot from the oven and let the chicken cool to warm or room temperature to serve. Serve the chicken with spoonfuls of the pan juices and garlic.
  5. Tip: When using the chicken in salads, discard the herb sprigs, shred the chicken into the pot, and coat in its juices.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • SKK
  • Maria Siracuse
    Maria Siracuse
  • Jen Vibul Priddy
    Jen Vibul Priddy
  • GordonW
  • willbfrank
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

82 Reviews

SKK February 4, 2021
This recipe is spectacular! Made it exactly as recipe stated. Unbelievably tender and the open sauce is amazing. This is a long time keeper.
Alpa P. January 12, 2021
The teens made it tonight for their dinner and followed the directions (except accidentally discarded the skin instead of just lifting and rubbing. Oh well. They said that it was a really good base but needed a bit more flavor. They did at Penzey's Ruth Anne's Muskegee Avenue Seasoning and Paprika on top of the chicken for a bit more depth. They loved the moisture and ease of cooking. So while our family may add some more ingredients, we learned a quick and easy way to cook, with minimal cleanup.
Craig K. January 19, 2021
Penzey's makes a liar of me every order. "Never use spice mixes! Who knows what's in there?" Then they send us a little envelope of French Vinaigrette mix or whatever, and we're like "How did we live without this?"
Maria S. June 17, 2020
I'm making this now.. Why salt twice? If you are rubbing the chicken with salt why put salt on again right before putting in the oven?
Dawn W. June 17, 2020
Can u use spatchcock chicken? How does it affect cooking time?
Jen V. June 26, 2019
I've make this several times and I like it more each time. It cooks while I play outside, with a little supervised broil at the end. It's so versatile -- I've used whole chicken, thighs, breasts, and a combo thereof. The pan sauce is perfect with the chicken, but last night I tossed it with some leftover penne to make an easy side, and today I'm eating leftover penne tossed w leftover roasted Brussels sprouts and tomatoes and some shredded chicken for a dynamite pasta. It is a real weeknight winner that tastes very sophisticated!
James B. June 18, 2019
Made this dish yesterday and all worked as described; favors were amazing and the chicken was very moist and crispy. The only negative was that using Thighs and olive oil produces a huge amount of very fatty oily liquid. Might reduce the oil or an oil wine mixture.
Katherine O. June 15, 2019
Really a challenge to get 8 chicken thighs in a 6" skillet.
Craig K. December 29, 2020
Huh. If only the recipe said something like "Choose a large pot with enough room that the chicken won't be too packed in—it should have a bit of room to breathe around each piece."
Heidi K. March 12, 2019
This was so easy. I even sent it to my 25 year old son and he is making it too. Needed to open the top and broil to get the skin really crisp
Annabel February 24, 2019
So I'm a little late to this party, and wow! this is now my go-to roast chicken recipe.
DC's P. February 21, 2019
Wow this is a great recipe. My only modification was that I didn't include rosemary - but the sage and thyme combo made for a very smooth and luscious sauce. I used a Le Creuset dutch oven that has high sides, which meant that the skin didn't brown very much but got me more sauce than with a less deep pot. Looking forward to trying this with a whole chicken. Thanks for a terrific recipe.
Jen V. February 6, 2019
Stop what you’re doing and make this. So simple and so delicious. The SAUCE, guys!
tin December 22, 2018
can this work with duck?
Kristen M. December 23, 2018
I've never tried it, but I'd be concerned that the fat wouldn't have a chance to render and crisp up. It might be better to stick with a recipe designed for duck, but if you decide to try it, please let us know how it goes!
Craig K. December 29, 2020
I've got a cold oven technique for duck that's pretty excellent. You only do this with legs and wings--season with salt and pepper, both sides, arrange them in a roasting pan that's just large enough to comfortably hold them, skin side up, put in the oven, set to 350 F, and come back in two hours. You get something that's almost like confit--incredible flavor--and crisp, almost parchment-like skin.
GordonW December 17, 2018
When you do you start the clock on timing? From the point the oven has reached 450? Thanks!
Kristen M. December 17, 2018
Nope, as soon as you turn it up!
willbfrank November 13, 2018
This has become our favorite chicken dish...all seasons. Have made it with a butterflied whole chicken, thighs and also with cut up chicken. It just works great! And the dipping sauce it makes is scrumpcious! Grab a bagguet and dig in.
Stephanie W. November 12, 2018
Had to put my two cents in. This was delicious! I used 3 chicken breasts and followed the recipe exactly except for shorter cooking time. Loved the pan drippings, I added a splash of wine when I removed the lid. Also had to turn the broiler on to crisp up the chicken. I served with a potato and arugula salad with a mustard vinaigrette. I felt like I was eating in a French bistro! This recipe is a keeper!
kritt November 11, 2018
So looking forward to trying this! I just returned from the store with a 7 1/2 pound whole chicken (yikes!)...any thoughts on the timing for this size bird?!
Kristen M. November 14, 2018
So sorry for the delay—I saw someone answered your question over on the Hotline, too, so hopefully that was helpful. The most important thing is keeping an eye on the internal temperature and adding water if the good stuff in the bottom looks like it might burn. How did it go?
Michele G. October 24, 2018
This was absolutely delicious. I used a whole chicken. I put the lemons inside the cavity after squeezing them over the chicken. I ended up with less juice than I expected so I deglazed the bottom of the pot with white wine on the stovetop. Just new favorite!
Rachel October 22, 2018
Made this tonight and hot dang! It was delicious. Used a whole chicken. The meat was super juicy and tender and the skin was just right amount of crispy. My friend asked for the recipe immediately. Will definitely replace the way I used to roast chicken.
Margaret G. September 9, 2018
So I just made this for the second time. I live a 5,000+ elevation, and the first time around the breast was a little dry. Also the ingredients at the bottom got a little burnt. The second time I did 48 minutes covered and 12 minutes uncovered, which led to a supremely juicy and wonderful bird. I’m still perfecting the liquid...this time I added about 1/2 cup white wine at the beginning and another 1/2 cup after removing the lid. I’d still love more drippings in the end, but it was super delicious. Served with quinoa and green beans.
Margaret G. December 9, 2018
For anyone following the recipe at elevation, I found that 1/2 to 3/4 cup of white wine at the beginning and 1/2 of water at the end when you uncover makes for the most (and wonderfully flavorful!) drippings.
4376ab May 5, 2019
Thank you for altitude adjustments. Wish more recipes had notes concerning cooking in the clouds.
Breadgirl August 8, 2018
I have made this awesome recipe multiple times. If I am missing an herb, I use whatever fresh herbs I have. Th roast time I made it, I used orange peel instead of lemon and it was delicious!
Breadgirl August 8, 2018
The last time I made it.