Reconsider slow-to-take lemony marinades. Instead roast lemon wedges as a sort of side dish. (The intense heat concentrates the citrus flavor and caramelizes the sugars.)
- 3 to 4 lemons, scrubbed
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (your choice of thighs, drumsticks, breasts)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large bunches watercress (may substitute arugula)
- Pitted green olives or red seedless grapes, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
Using a sharp knife, remove and discard the tips of each lemon. Cut each lemon into quarters, remove and discard the central membrane and seeds, and cut each lemon quarter into 2 wedges. Place the lemon slices in a large bowl, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil and toss to coat.
Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper to taste.
In a large, preferably ovenproof, skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the chicken; do not crowd the skillet. (May need to work in batches or in 2 skillets. If you work in batches, place a roasting pan in the oven to preheat.) Cook, without turning, until the chicken is golden brown and crisp on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken and scatter the lemon wedges around but not on top of the chicken. (The lemon segments should be in contact with the skillet.) Cook until the chicken is golden brown and crisp on the other side, about 4 minutes.
Transfer the skillet(s) to the oven or transfer the chicken and lemons and their drippings to the preheated roasting pan. Roast, stirring the lemons once, until no trace of pink remains in the chicken and the lemons are golden, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, wash, dry, stem and coarsely chop the watercress.
Place the watercress on individual plates or a platter. Place the chicken pieces on top of the watercress and scatter the lemons alongside. If desired, spoon some of the pan juices over the chicken and watercress and add olives or grapes.
Adapted from "The Best of Williams-Sonoma Taste" (Weldon Owen, 2001).
Tested by Renee Schettler.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.