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
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
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!)
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.
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.
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.
Tip: When using the chicken in salads, discard the herb sprigs, shred the chicken into the pot, and coat in its juices.
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore.