The idea for this chicken began with a North African tagine-style stew. But I prefer what roasting does to the chicken thighs; the lemon-honey glaze turns it sticky and crisp.
They're the best kind of entertaining food, standing up to reheats or waiting without drying out in a low oven. With the mix of peppers, they encore as a hot topping for salad greens.
Cook to Cook: Chicken thighs are my go-to choice when I want food that can work around people. This means things that don't go belly up if the conversation is going great guns and any kind of break would ruin the moment. Short of burning them, chicken thighs can take almost anything. The meat holds its own on the moisture and flavor scales, even when cooked longer than you'd like.
1. If you can, marinate the thighs for a couple of hours. In a bowl whisk together the marinade ingredients. Put the thighs in a couple of heavy plastic bags, divide the marinade between them, and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 hours.
2. To cook, turn the oven to 350ºF. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade with a fork, letting the marinade drain off. Spread out the thighs on a large, shallow roasting pan (a half-sheet pan is ideal) so they don't touch. Save any marinade. Scatter the peppers, chiles, onion and garlic around the chicken and sprinkle everything with salt and pepper. Drizzle a little olive oil over the vegetables.
3. Roast for 30 minutes. Baste with the pan juices, and then scrape all the reserved marinade over the chicken and vegetables, turning them to coat evenly.
4. Roast another 20 to 30 minutes, basting and turning occasionally. When the chicken reaches 165ºF on an instant-reading thermometer, it is done.
5. If it hasn't browned, baste it again with the pan juices and run it under the broiler. Watch closely for browning without burning, turning the chicken and vegetables. If burning threatens the vegetables, pull the pan out of the oven, spoon the vegetables onto a serving platter and finish browning the chicken under the broiler. You want it crisp, glazed and deep brown.
6. Let the chicken rest about 10 minutes in the pan out of the oven. Then mound it on a platter with heaps of vegetables on the side. Squeeze the juice of a lemon over everything and serve hot.
If you'd like, you could make a Classic Pan Sauce while the chicken rests.
Rosemary-Orange Roast Chicken: Follow the recipe as written except for this change: Instead of the lemon-honey marinade, blend together 1/3 cup good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil, 4 large cloves garlic, minced; the grated zest of half a large orange, the juice of half the orange, 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
Chicken Roasted with Forty Cloves of Garlic: The garlic turns so mellow in roasting you can tease it out of its shell and smear it over the chicken like jam. Follow the recipe as written, but eliminate the marinade. Instead, toss the chicken and other ingredients with 40 cloves (3 to 4 large heads) of unpeeled garlic, 1/4 cup good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, 1/3 cup good- tasting vinegar (sherry, wine, or cider), salt and pepper. Roast as directed. After 20 minutes, start basting with the pan juices and 1/2 cup dry white wine. Make the pan sauce with a little cream and coarse-grain mustard.
This recipe appears in Eating In with Lynne Rossetto Kasper, Issue 1, which is available as an e-book.
"If there's a set of values in Senegal, teranga would be the most important one," says chef Pierre Thiam, author of Senegal. "It's the way you treat the guest."