Rachel Roddy's recipe for roast chicken and potatoes with lemon and rosemary

Not the super crunchy baked potato kind, but very gooey potatoes with chicken, lemon, and garlic juices, all baked in a single tray.

In summer, the hardest season, the fridge in the butcher shop is below our flat. It wasn't a constant hum, or even a consistent one. For the most part, it sounded like a tired bee stuck in the glass in another room. But then, every so often, it gets louder, first turning into a crusader wasp, then an old tube train, before abruptly stopping, sounding as if it had been turned off. It didn't, of course, and soon, like a child playing or someone on a merry stroll, it was humming again.

This refrigerator has caused controversy in our building, being responsible for sleepless nights and divorce. As someone who sleeps through almost anything, I know the buzz level just because it keeps me reading or scrolling on my phone. The problem goes away in winter, when the fridge, with little work, shuts off, meaning the hum is more of a vibration through the tiles. Which is also warm. A convenience store, and fridge, which provides underfloor heating incidentally, as well as chicken thighs for recipe of the week, which are also ideal for parties.

I'm down for 12 thighs this week, and can see the fridge as I stand at the cash desk. My butcher nodded when I bought the thigh, which I took more as a sign of approval that I wasn't buying the breast. The average chicken thigh, with skin and bone, weighs 90-100g, which shrinks as it cooks, so I'd estimate three per person.

The recipe starts with a marinade, during which time the lemon tenderizes the darker flesh by denaturing or releasing the long proteins in muscles and connective tissue, which also allows the garlic, rosemary and oregano to relax too. This recipe was inspired by Rena Salaman and her excellent book Greek Food, an affectionate celebration of traditional recipes. It's a mixture of the lemon potatoes – soft and slightly gooey from the reduced oil and lemon juice – and the roast chicken and potatoes. Rena's note about the potatoes is relevant here: cooked with the chicken, they turn golden, but not as crunchy as other baked potatoes, due to all the juices they absorb, and the better for it.

Like the fridge in winter, this recipe is undemanding – just a few steps and a tray – and incredibly rewarding; warms not just the tiles, but the entire room and everyone in it.

Roast chicken and potatoes with lemon and rosemary

  • Serves 4, or 8 as part of a buffet
  • 1.2kg chicken thigh bone with skin
  • 5 potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 1 large lemon, or 2 small lemons
  • 150 ml of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • Salt
  • 2 tsp dry oregano

Preheat oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Place the chicken and potatoes in a large bowl, squeeze the lemon juice and add the olive oil, garlic, needles from one sprig of rosemary and another whole sprig, salt and oregano, and stir well. Cut the empty lemon zest into slices, add to the bowl, stir again and let sit for 45 minutes, if you can.

Place the potatoes and chicken skin-side down on the baking sheet that holds them more or less in a single layer, making sure to scrape up all the marinade, then bake for 45 minutes, turning the chicken halfway, so that it is now skin-side up. Remove the chicken onto a platter, return the potatoes and lemon wedges to the oven, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are golden.

Transfer the potatoes and lemon to a chicken dish, put the tray over medium heat and add a splash of white wine to extend the juices. Scrape bottom of tray with wooden spoon to remove bits, let juices bubble for about a minute, then pour over chicken and potatoes and serve.

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