Roasted Chicken Legs with Rosemary, Garlic, and Lemon
I love lemon! I’d happily proclaim that on a bumper sticker if I owned a car. I’m that person who sees a lemon dessert on a menu and orders it over the chocolate one. And this love of lemon carries into savory foods too. I’ll squeeze lemon on just about anything—it’s good on more than just seafood. Lemon squeezed onto a crispy pork cutlet. Lemon squeezed onto a roast chicken. Or better yet lemon roasted alongside a chicken. Now that’s the best!
This is how this recipe came about. I often see chicken roasted with rosemary and garlic. It’s a classic combination. But I’ve always found something is missing. That’s where lemon comes in. I not only add lemon juice to the marinade for these chicken legs. I also add thin slices of whole lemon. Once roasted, some of the lemon slices become soft whereas others turn crispy. I love the play in textures and the play of savory and acidic flavors.
If you like lemon as much as I do, give this recipe a try. You’ll find lemon is even more versatile than you initially could have thought.
Roasted Chicken Legs with Lemon, Rosemary, and Garlic
Note: Use a large lemon for this recipe. Look for a lemon that is heavy for its size so you know it has lots of juice. I especially love using an Amalfi or Sicilian lemon for this recipe because of their size and mild pith. A Meyer lemon would also be wonderful and even sweeter if you find lemons too tart.
2 stalks fresh rosemary
4 to 6 cloves garlic
4 chicken legs, cleaned and trimmed
4 to 6 medium to large Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 pound), cut into wedges
arugula, for serving
Thinly slice about half to two-thirds of the lemon, and juice the rest. Strip the leaves from the rosemary. And, smash the garlic cloves with the back of a knife (it’s not necessary to peel them).
In a large resealable plastic bag stretched over a bowl, add the lemon slices and lemon juice, the rosemary leaves, and the smashed garlic. Add a large pinch of salt and as much freshly ground pepper as you like. Add the chicken legs, and drizzle over with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil.
Seal the bag without removing the air and shake to distribute the marinade and lemon slices. Open the bag, press out the excess air, and seal. If you’re planning on roasting the dish within the hour, marinate at room temperature for no more than 1 hour. Otherwise marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 to 3 hours. But you’ll want to allow the meat to come to room temperature before roasting, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with baking paper.
Lay the potato slices on the sheet pan, add the marinated chicken and all the contents of the bag. Move everything around so that the potatoes also get coated in the marinade. Tuck a few lemon slices under some of the chicken legs, and press some other lemon slices onto the skin to minimize burning. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken and potatoes, and drizzle over with additional olive oil if it looks too dry.
Place the pan in the oven and roast for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until the chicken and potatoes are golden brown and the temperature of the meat reaches 200 degrees F when a meat thermometer is inserted into the thigh. Let rest for 10 to 12 minutes before serving with arugula. Yield: 4 servings.
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