There’s something about roasted chicken that will forever be comforting to me. It smells like home. It smells like holidays. It smells like childhood dinners. No matter how easy or ambitious the recipe. No matter how simple or complex the flavors, roasted chicken is comfort food, plain and simple.
Being a somewhat picky child I’d always put in a request for white meat. My mom would bathe my portion in pan drippings and I’d savor each bite, finding it hard to recall whatever was served alongside it. If I’d had my way, I’d have eaten only chicken on those nights—in efforts to truly appreciate the moment.
My mother roasted chicken infrequently enough that it always felt like a special occasion. This isn’t to say we never had chicken for meals; it was a staple for many dishes including her infamous chicken in coconut milk. But her cooking was of another place, another culture. It was different in every wonderful way possible, tasting of her own childhood and standing far apart from the meals other people’s parents made.
In the kitchen she could turn any ingredients into the most magical dish. With roasted chicken the taste and flavors were always different. Sometimes plain with salt and pepper, other times with lemon and butter, or maybe roasted with vegetables and tons of spices or herbs. Never did she consult a cookbook or think about measuring. No matter the outcome the smell of her roasted chicken was always mouthwatering. The taste was always perfect.
It is of her I think as I go through the motions of this dish. Cooking the way I love to, without thinking too much about it. The most delicious meals I’ve ever made were not carefully measured or planned out. They did not follow recipes rather, they evolved as I cooked. I pan seared chicken thighs (oddly they are my favorite part of the chicken these days). I added garlic, a splash (and then some) of white wine, tossed in some olives. I let the dish guide me.
You’ll have to excuse this recipe. I did my best to estimate portions and amounts after the fact. Sometimes I like to, need to, cook without strategy and too much focus. I need to take a step back and reconnect with the way I learned to cook, for those I love. It’s so important to not lose sight of those rituals and memories. When that sort of passion and intuition are called upon, you will end up with incredible food, every time.
This dish is citrusy, briny, full of rich flavors. It is comfort food that will make your home smell wonderful. It’s a simple dish that goes perfect along any side that can sop up the delicious juices. Make it when you need a bit of something that will feel and taste like home no matter what your childhood dinner memories may be.
- 2 lbs. bone in, skin on chicken thighs
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 bulb garlic, halved
- 1 small onion halved, and thinly sliced
- A few sprigs of tarragon
- 1 cup kalamata olives, lightly rinsed
- 1 cup (ish) dry white wine
- Handful fresh basil
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1 lemon, sliced
- Salt and Pepper
- Serving Ideas
- Roasted or mashed potatoes
- Steamed rice
- Roasted vegetables
- Gnocchi (perfect for those pan drippings)
- Make the Chicken
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Trim off any excess skin from the chicken thighs and season both sides with salt and pepper.
- In a large ovenproof skillet or pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Pan-fry chicken, skin-side down until golden and crispy, about 3-5 minutes.
- Then flip with tongs and cook a few minutes more.
- Add in white wine and using a wooden spoon scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat and add in onion, olives, tarragon, garlic, lemon juice and slices.
- Bake uncovered for about 50 minutes or until chicken easily falls off the bone.
- Served topped with fresh torn basil leaves.
- For the Potatoes
- Please note I didn’t pay attention at all to this part. I simply roasted some potatoes, smashed them about halfway through, and I have no Idea how long they took. These can be baked at the same time as the chicken.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Wash and slice potatoes about 1inch thick.
- Place a pat of butter on each potato round.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- After about 15(?) minutes use a potato masher to smash each potato round. Bake until tops are crispy! Maybe 30 minutes in all.