Roast Chicken Legs with Lemon and Thyme

Roast Chicken Legs with Lemon and Thyme

Baby, it's cold outside. I went to wash the salt and dirt off my car today, and there were icicles hanging off the car-wash entrance. I can see my breath at noon. I'm wearing boots, coats, scarves and mittens to work. (If you know me at all you know I wear flip flops as long as I possibly can every year, and I often forgo coats because I can always run from my car to the door. Who needs a coat for a 20-second jaunt?) But not this week. This coldfront is gripping the nation; it's threatening Florida's beautiful citrus crops, and it's burying parts of New York under - gasp - 55 inches of snow or more.

This weather calls for roast chicken. Now I realize that roast chicken can be a very personal thing. Some like crisp skin; some like it rotisserie-style; some like it roasted with vegetables and basted; some like it with a simple slathering of butter, salt and pepper; and some, like me, will take it any way they can get it. When I was a kid there was a restaurant in town that served its food buffet-style - at least it did when we were there. I can only vaguely remember going to eat there, and the only thing I actually remember eating were chicken legs and roast potatoes. I'm not sure why they stick out in my head; maybe it's because I was being picky and that's all I would eat. Or perhaps it's because even at my young age I knew the chicken was perfectly roasted - definitely not fried - and had this fabulous, lemony skin. I don't think the restaurant exists any more, and I have no idea how the chicken was actually made, but I'm guessing it was a Greek recipe. When I saw this recipe, Roast Chicken Legs with Lemon and Thyme, I knew it would give me a big dose of nostalgia and warm my bones up, too, on these cold, winter days.

Roast Chicken Legs with Lemon and Thyme
Adapted from Epicurious
Printer-friendly recipe

2.5 pounds drumsticks (or thighs and legs)
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tablespoon dried)
2 garlic cloves, smashed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 (1/4-inch-thick) lemon slices

1. Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 500°F.
2. Toss chicken with oil, thyme sprigs, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, then transfer to a large (17- by 12-inch) shallow heavy baking pan (1 inch deep).
3. Bake chicken 10 minutes, then add lemon slices to pan. Continue to bake until chicken is golden and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes more. Serve chicken with lemon slices.