There are about a million and one ways to make chicken. You can hunt high and low for a brand new recipe, only to be met with the same old ones. But then, you come across one that uses ingredients in such a simple, clean way you know you just have to make it. For me, that was this recipe. It's from Diana Henry's book, Simple, one of my favorite cookbooks for the simplicity of recipes and her use of fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Of course, I made a few tweaks, and tested a few times to ensure it still resulted in a satisfying, tasty dish. The chicken hangs out in a marinade of orange juice, oregano, garlic and a few other key ingredients to infuse it with mind blowing flavor. It gets browned on the stove first, than finished off in the oven to ensure it stays moist, and then topped with a tangy, light gremolata. Gremolata is usually made up of lemon zest, garlic and parsley. In this interpretation, there are briny olives, spicy red chiles, and orange zest.
TIP 1: Make the marinade and pop the chicken in it early in the morning, or, better yet, the day before you cook it.
TIP 2: The gremolata can be made a day, or two, ahead of time. This will allow all the flavors to meld together and makes for an even MORE flavor packed gremolata.
- 12 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
- 1 bunch of oregano, leaves only, finely chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, crushed
- Juice of 2 oranges, plus finely grated zest of 1
- 2 small oranges (I love using blood oranges), cut into thin slices
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Flakey sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- a small pinch of granulated sugar
- 7 ounces green olives (like Castelvetrano), or Greek olive mix, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 red chili, seeded and finely diced
- zest of 1 orange
- 2 sprigs of parsley, leaves only, coarsely chopped
- 2 sprigs of oregano, leaves only, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
Prep the chicken: With a sharp knife, pierce the underside of each chicken thigh. In a small bowl mix together all the ingredients for the marinade: oregano, garlic, orange juice and zest, 1/4 cup olive oil and pepper. Place all the chicken thighs in a large ziplock bag. Be sure you can seal the top. Depending on the size of the thighs, you may need to divide them up between 2 ziplock bags. Pour the marinade over the chicken. If using 2 ziplock bags, pour 1/2 the marinade in one bag, and half in the other. Seal the bags. Be sure they are VERY well sealed, so the marinade doesn't leak out. Massage the outside of the bag (or each bag), to distribute the marinade over all the pieces of chicken. Place the bag(s) in a shallow dish, and store in fridge.
Marinate the chicken for a few hours, or, even better, overnight. At minimum, marinate for at least 1 hour.
Make the gremolata:
In small food processor, combine the olives, garlic, chili, zest, parsley and oregano. Pulse until they are finely chopped. Then add the rest of the ingredients, and whiz together a few times to combine. Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator.
When you're ready to eat:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat remaining oil in a cast iron pan over medium high heat. If you don't have a cast iron pan, use an oven proof skillet. Take the chicken out of the fridge, gently shake off excess marinade, and place in the pan. Space out the chicken, so they brown evenly and are in a single layer. You will probably need to cook them in batches. Brown the chicken on each side, about 5-6 minutes. Once each batch is browned on both sides, remove from pan, and place on a platter.
When all the chicken is cooked, add all the chicken and any accumulated juices, back into the pan. They will fit snugly, and that's perfectly ok! Scatter with a few pinches of sea salt, place in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.
Remove chicken from oven, and with tongs, carefully lift up some of the chicken and lay half the orange slices underneath some of the pieces. Place the rest of the orange slices on top of the chicken, sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of granulate sugar, and roast for 20 minutes. Check to be sure the internal chicken temperature is 165 which means the chicken is done.
Scatter the gremolata over the top, and serve the chicken family style, straight from the pan.
Inspired, and very lightly adapted, from Simple by Diana Henry