meSummer, its hardest season, the refrigerator in the butcher’s shop under our simple hums. It’s not a constant buzz, or even a constant one. Mostly, it feels like a tired bee trapped against the glass in another room. But then, every so often, it soars, turning first into a cross wasp, then an old tube train, before suddenly descending, sounding as if it had been turned off. It wasn’t, of course, and soon, like a child at play or someone on a merry walk, it rings again.
This refrigerator has sparked controversy in our building, being responsible for sleepless nights and divorce. As someone who falls asleep to just about everything, I only know the level of hum because it made me keep reading or scrolling on my phone. The problem goes away in the winter, when the fridge turns down, with a little work, which means the buzz is more vibrating through the tiles. It is also warm. A store and refrigerator provide us with unintentional underfloor heating, plus chicken thighs for this week’s recipe, also perfect for parties.
I went down this week for a thigh 12, and I could see the fridge as I stood at the cash counter. The butcher shakes my nod when I buy my thighs, which I take more as a sign of approval Not breast purchase. An average chicken thigh, with skin and bones, weighs 90-100 grams, and it shrinks during cooking, so I estimate three per person.
The recipe begins with the marinade, during which time the lemon softens the dark meat by denaturing or loosening the long protein in the muscles and connective tissues, which also allows the garlic, rosemary, and oregano to relax as well. This recipe is inspired by Rina Salaman and her wonderful book Greek Food, a soulful celebration of traditional recipes. It’s a combination of lemon potatoes—soft and slightly sticky from reduced oil and lemon juice—and roasted chicken and potatoes. Rina’s note about potatoes is relevant here: cooked with chicken, they turn golden, but they don’t go as tender as other roast potatoes, because of all the juices they absorb, and it’s all the better for them.
Like a fridge in winter, this recipe isn’t demanding—just a few steps and one tray—and deeply rewarding; Not just tile heating, but the entire room and everyone in it.
Grilled chicken and potatoes with lemon and rosemary
serves 4 or 8 as part of the buffet
1.2 kg bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
5 potatoesPeeled and cut into quarters
1 large lemonor 2 small
150 ml olive oil
4 garlic clovesPeeled and thinly sliced
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 teaspoons dried thyme
Preheat oven to 220°C (fan 200°C) / 425°F / gas 7. Place chicken and potatoes in a large bowl, squeeze over lemon juice, add olive oil, garlic, needles from a sprig of rosemary and other whole sprigs, salt and oregano and stir well. Cut the empty lemon peel into strips, add to the bowl, stir again and let sit for 45 minutes, if you can.
Place the potatoes and chicken skin-side down in a baking sheet that will fit them in about a single layer, making sure to scrape up all of the marinade, and roast for 45 minutes, turning the chicken halfway through, so that the skin is now on top. Remove the chicken to a plate, return the potatoes and lemon slices to the oven, and sauté for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes turn golden.
Transfer the potatoes and lemon to the chicken dish, place the griddle over medium heat and add a splash of white wine to the gurgling juices. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge any small bits, let the juices boil for a minute or so, then pour over the chicken and potatoes and serve.