I can recite Ina Garten’s Roast Chicken recipe from memory as it is my ultimate comfort food. Stuffed with lemon, an entire head of garlic and a giant handful of fresh thyme, then roasted on a bed of onions, fennel and carrots. I swoon. The kitchen smells like heaven. The aromas wafting from the oven basically wrap you in a giant, aromatic hug. But, sometimes one is simply in no mood to roast a whole doggone chicken on a Tuesday. What if we could achieve all the comforting, schmalzy, aromatic, feel good flavors of a traditional roast chicken without prepping, trussing or carving a whole bird? Guess what, friend? You can – with these roast chicken thighs. We’re gonna deconstruct Ina Garten’s roast chicken and and throw it back together in a cast iron skillet.
But we’re only using my favorite parts of the bird- the thighs. Mmmmmm. Look at all that crackly skin…… And these lemons. Roast lemon = happiness. Roasted alongside the chicken and veggies and drizzled over the whole business on your plate, the lemon balances the fat perfectly. (I’m getting hungrier the more I type) We’re also tossing in a handful of whole garlic cloves to infuse the meat. They are a pretty delightful accoutrement to the chicken, or spread on a baguette. Or if you are my husband, eaten like candy.
TIPS for the best roast chicken thighs
- Use only bone in, skin on chicken thighs. They yield the juiciest, tenderest, most flavorful meat. They also cook more evenly than different pieces would.
- Cut your vegetables exactly according to the recipe, If you cut your carrots too large, they will be underdone when the chicken is cooked.
- For goodness sake, please don’t skip the fennel. For years, I avoided fennel like the plague. I thought it tasted like licorice, and I truly despise licorice. Turns out I only dislike fennel seed-(and even that is growing on me-still no licorice though-ever, ever, EVER). But, roasted fennel bulb is an entirely different ball game. It adds a depth of flavor you just can’t get with onion alone. If you can’t find fresh fennel, these roast chicken thighs are still highly enjoyable, but if you have the option, keep the fennel in.
- Cast iron is an excellent option for getting these gorgeous, caramelized veggies, but any oven safe skillet will work. However- if you do not own a cast iron skillet, I highly suggest acquiring one. Here is a link to the one I love and use.
I believe so much in roast chicken’s nourishing, magical powers that it THE meal I bring to friends welcoming home a new baby. After delivering maybe a dozen roast chickens, it dawned on me that perhaps someone walking around in a sleep deprived baby fog should not operate a carving knife. Perhaps they would appreciate something slightly less labor intensive to transfer from the oven to their belly. And you know, on a busy Tuesday, maybe so would I! Hence, these roast chicken thighs with carrots and fennel were born.
However, if you are of a mind to roast a whole bird- and there is always a time and place for that- here is the link to the recipe.
And if you are in search of a couple other recipes to jazz up your chicken, might I recommend the Ethiopian Chicken Stew or the Chicken Pot Pie with Camembert?
SO loving all the winter comfort food. Happy Cooking, friend!
Roast Chicken Thighs with Carrots and Fennel
All the flavors of Ina Garten’s Roast Chicken without prepping, trussing or carving a whole bird. Savory and aromatic, this is easy, weeknight comfort food.
- 6 bone in, skin on chicken thighs (about two pounds)
- 1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled trimmed and cut into two inch long pieces, no thicker than 1/2 inch each.
- 1 large sweet yellow onion, trimmed, peeled and cut into 1 inch thick slices
- 1 fennel bulb, end trimmed and outer layer removed, sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 10 whole garlic cloves
- 3 lemons, halved
- 1 bunch fresh thyme (about 20 sprigs)
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling the lemons
- 1 Teaspoon kosher Salt (divided)
- 1/2 Teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper (divided)
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Pat chicken dry and season both sides generously with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Set aside
- Place onion, fennel, carrots, garlic cloves and thyme sprigs in a 12 inch wide, deep skillet- preferably cast iron. Toss with the olive oil and remainder of the salt and pepper.
- Nestle the lemon halves and chicken pieces among the vegetables.
- Brush the top of the chicken thighs with the melted butter using a pastry brush.
- Drizzle the lemons with a little olive oil
- Roast in oven 45-55 minutes until chicken is cooked. Internal temperature should be 165 degrees F.