Long-Roasted Chicken with Celery, Mint, and Lemon
Makes: 4 servings
Total Carbohydrates: 6 grams per serving
Hands-on Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 ½ hours
This dish is just so incredibly simple and good. It’s a slight riff on a classic Persian celery stew that an Iranian friend made for us (okay, her non-Iranian husband is who actually made it for us). It spotlights humble celery and also employs the Middle Eastern power-duo of mint and lemon. In this falling-apart-tender roasted version, though, there’s the added benefit of the outrageously crisp and delicious chicken skin, which you’ll wish there were even more of. Feel free to use four leg quarters – that’s the thigh with the leg attached – if you prefer, or if that’s what’s on sale at your market.
If you’re looking to:
Lower the fat: Remove and discard the skin before eating (and sob!).
Lower the salt: Use less salt.
8 or 9 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (around 3 pounds)
3 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 ½ teaspoons table salt)
1 bunch of celery, ends trimmed off, cut across into 1-inch pieces (just cut across the whole bunch and include the leaves)
1 red or yellow onion, halved and sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried mint (tear open an herbal mint teabag if that’s what you’ve got)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Season the chicken soon as you get home from the market – ideally a day or 2 before you plan to cook it, but that same day if need be: Measure the salt into a bowl, then sprinkle both sides of each thigh with it, using all the salt. Cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.
Turn oven to 350 °F, and take the chicken out of the refrigerator while the oven heats.
Put the celery, onion, and garlic in a lasagna-sized roasting dish. Sprinkle with the mint, a generous grinding of black pepper, and the olive oil and lemon juice. Toss to coat.
Arrange the chicken thighs on top and roast, uncovered, for between 2 and 2 ½ hours. Here’s what to expect: the chicken will give up a bunch of juice at first and the vegetables will stew and braise in it, and then the liquid will dry up a bit and everything will brown. When the chicken is done, the thighs will have shrunk considerably, the skin will be crisp and golden-brown, and the meat should be falling off the bone. The celery and onions will be very tender and melty and there will still be some juice in the pan to serve everything with.