Excerpted from MILK STREET: TUESDAY NIGHTS MEDITERRANEAN. Copyright © 2021 by CPK Media, LLC. Photographs by Connie Miller. Used with permission of Voracious, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company. New York, NY. All rights reserved.
- Total Cooking Time: Start to finish 45 minutes.
- Servings: 4
Salmoriglio, a sauce/marinade from southern Italy (specifically, Calabria and Sicily), is a simple mixture of extra-virgin olive oil, lemon, garlic and herbs. For this oven-cooked recipe, we make a fragrant base of grated lemon zest, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, then use some to season bone-in chicken thighs and the rest as the foundation for the salmoriglio that sauces the finished chicken. Rather than use the juice of fresh lemons to make the salmoriglio, we squeeze lemon halves that have been roasted with the chicken. The heat mellows the acidity so the sauce has a subtle sweetness and a more restrained tartness.
Don’t skip the step of cutting slashes into the chicken. The cuts allow the seasonings to get into the meat for better flavor throughout and also help speed the cooking.
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, plus 2 lemons halved crosswise
- 2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 bunch watercress, trimmed, or 5-ounce container baby arugula
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
- Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Grate 1 tablespoon zest from the lemons, then halve the lemons and trim off the pointed ends so the halves sit stably with cut sides facing up; set the lemon halves aside. In a small bowl, stir together the zest, garlic, dried oregano, 1½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Measure 1 tablespoon of the lemon-garlic mixture into a large bowl. Stir 4 tablespoons of oil into the remaining mixture; set aside.
- To the large bowl, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the honey, 2 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, then stir to combine. Using a sharp knife, cut parallel slashes about 1 inch apart all the way to the bone on both sides of each chicken thigh. Add the thighs to the bowl and turn to coat on all sides, rubbing the seasoning mixture into the slashes.
- Arrange the chicken, skin side up, and the lemon halves, cut sides up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until the chicken is beginning to brown and the thickest part reaches 165°F to 170°F, about 20 minutes. Leaving the chicken in the oven, turn on the broiler. Continue to cook until the chicken is deep golden brown and the thickest part reaches about 175°F, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.
- Place the watercress on a serving platter, creating a bed for the chicken. Using tongs, place the chicken on top of the watercress. Squeeze 3 tablespoons juice from 1 or 2 of the lemon halves, then stir the juice along with the fresh oregano into the lemon-garlic oil to make the salmoriglio. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken and serve with the remaining lemon halves for squeezing.