I have to admit, I created this recipe for one of my very favorite pans — a round, two-handled, enameled cast-iron Le Creuset skillet. Technically, it is a 2.25-quart “braiser” (comes with a lid) and it is, in fact, a great pan for braising, or even stovetop sautéing. It’s also a great casserole dish. But I also like to use it for roasting chicken pieces, as there’s nothing like cast iron for conducting heat and ensuring the crispy factor. Enameled cast-iron pans (made by Lodge and Staub as well as Le Creuset) are even better for easy clean-up and no-reaction sauce-making. My mom gave me my pan, so I treasure it, but you can buy one from LeRoux. All enameled cast-iron pans come with a decent price tag, but they will last forever.  

Of course, you don’t need that pan to make this “oven-fried” chicken. Any shallow roasting pan will do, as long as the chicken pieces are relatively snug when first arranged in the pan.  

Here, I use the classic combo of lemons, garlic (whole cloves, roasted right in the pan), and rosemary to flavor the chicken. You could change things up with different herbs or spices in the flour or by changing the garlic to shallots and the lemons to orange slices.

In my household, one person (who shall remain nameless) can eat three (sometimes four) chicken thighs at a sitting, so that is why I say this serves two to three people. You can easily scale this recipe up by using a bigger pan or two pans. Add chicken legs, too.

Serves 2 to 3

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, plus 12 short sprigs (more chopped or sprigs for garnish)
  • 5 or 6 medium-sized, bone-in chicken thighs, about 2 1/2 pounds total 
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh pepper
  • 6 to 8 lemon slices (about 1 lemon, ends trimmed, thinly sliced)
  • 12 to 15 garlic cloves, peeled (and cut in half if large)

1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Put the butter into a 2- or 2 ½-quart ovenproof shallow baking dish. (I like enameled cast-iron, but Pyrex is fine.) Pop the pan in the oven and let the butter melt. This takes about five minutes, but keep your eye on it; you don’t want the butter to brown up or burn. Remove the pan from the oven. 

2. Combine the flour and the chopped rosemary in a large shallow mixing bowl. Season the chicken thighs all over with kosher salt (be generous) and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Put the chicken thighs in the mixing bowl and toss each one with the flour mixture until thoroughly coated.

3. Taking care when handling the hot baking pan, pick up one chicken thigh and put it skin side down in the butter. Pick it back up, flip it over, and arrange it in the pan over a lemon slice and a sprig of rosemary. (Put rosemary sprig on top of lemon slice.) Repeat with the remaining chicken thighs until they are all arranged in the pan, each one on top of a lemon slice and a sprig of rosemary. Tuck the garlic cloves around, in-between, and under the edges of the chicken. Tuck any extra lemon slices between the thighs if you like. Arrange another rosemary sprig on top of each thigh.

4. Roast until the chicken is cooked through (165 degrees F) and the skin is very crisp (the bottoms will be crisp and darkened), at least 50 to 55 minutes, depending on the size of your thighs and how crisp you like your chicken. Thigh meat will stay moist and forgiving with a bit of extra cooking so I sometimes go 60 minutes for deep browning. (This also depends on your true oven temperature.)

5. Use a metal spatula to remove the thighs from the baking pan (the lemons will will have probably adhered to the bottom of each thigh, but if not, scrape them out of the pan) and be sure to serve with some of the garlic and some crispy bits from the bottom of the pan.