This is a quintessential example of vintage Northern Italian Peasant fare. Since we have fountains of fresh rosemary flourishing in our Arizona garden and are always searching for ways to put this pungent, woody, citrusy herb to good use, I decided to showcase a Mama Carmela classic.
This luscious, lemony, herb-packed delight was my mama’s “go to” Sunday chicken dish and remains mine to this day. I can still smell the herbs permeating mama’s kitchen as the chicken, lemons, spices and herbs roasted in the oven–warming every sense of my being.
Back then it seemed as if it would be hours until we all sat down to the much-awaited feast. My siblings and I used to battle over the golden, garlicky, lemony bits at the bottom of the roasting pan…there were never enough. Served with pasta aglio olio, a side salad and crusty bread, this is one simple, flavor packed recipe that still spells H-O-M-E. True comfort food for this Italian gal…
2 tbsp. lemon zest
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
7 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely minced, plus a few sprigs if available
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2-4 lbs. of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, breasts or drumsticks or a combination
2-3 tbsp. melted butter
Thinly sliced lemons and rosemary sprigs for garnish
Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper in a large zipper-lock plastic bag. Seal the bag and shake well to blend. Place the chicken pieces in the bag with the marinade, pressing out excess air and sealing once more. Refrigerate and let marinate for at least 2 hours preferably overnight.
Preheat oven to 425˚ F. Remove chicken pieces from marinade and transfer to a baking dish, skin-side up, reserving leftover marinade—do not crowd chicken. Brush the top of each piece of chicken with melted butter.
Bake for 50-55 minutes (check the breasts after about 40 mins so they don’t dry out), until the skins are crispy and well-browned. Halfway through baking, pour the remaining marinade over the chicken pieces in the baking dish. Once fully baked, cover loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes before serving. Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with lemon slices and rosemary sprigs.