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Roast Chicken Provencal

Although I live in the American Midwest, I subscribe to the Sunday New York Times. It’s not that I crave “all the news that fit to print.” My embarrassing truth is this: the highlight of my week is sitting down with the Sunday NYT crossword puzzle and a cup of coffee and waiting for my son Corbett to call from Seattle. We then complete the puzzle together while he audibly munches on a chocolate croissant he walked to the bakery to get beforehand. I ask him to chew more quietly because my mouth is watering.

Several years ago, an article titled, “The Enduring Appeal of Roast Chicken Provencal,” appeared in the Times magazine a few pages in front of the puzzle. While it looked appealing, I was skeptical. New York Times recipes are weird. Who wants to be “Cooking with Kimchi?” (There’s a link in case you are the type.) Or how about “Fish Cakes with Herbs and Chiles?” (Another link for you fish cake aficionados. You must be New Yorkers.)

But this…was simply chicken. Chicken in one pan with almost no preparation. Here’s what you do: you put chicken in a roasting pan, add a few simple ingredients and into the oven it goes. That’s it. My next thought was that it couldn’t possibly taste good because it’s way too easy. So easy, in fact, that I had to give it a go just to prove my point about the general weirdness of Times’ recipes.

Here’s my chicken all ready for the oven:

Eight chicken thighs with shallots, lemon, garlic & Herbes de Provence & doused with dry vermouth.

So how was it? In a word, fabulous. It’s simple, it’s delicious and here’s the kicker: once you’ve tasted it you want it again. BTW, it’s a perfect dish for entertaining because your time can be spent with your guests instead of doing lots of kitchen prep. Make a salad ahead of time and have it ready in the fridge and your work is done.

We WW members like to skin our chicken before cooking, but I’m inclined to leave the skin on to assure that the meat doesn’t dry out during the roasting process. I remove the skin before serving. You can use skinless and boneless chicken, but be sure to adjust the cooking time.

I apologize, New York Times. Your recipes aren’t (all) weird.

4 whole chicken legs, or 8 bone-in chicken thighs 2 tsp. kosher salt 1 tsp. black pepper 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 2 Tbsp. olive oil 2 Tbsp. dried Herbes de Provence (sounds like a lot but it isn’t) 1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges 8 garlic cloves, peeled 4 to 6 medium shallots, peeled and halved 1/3 cup dry vermouth 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Put flour on a plate and lightly dredge chicken in it, shaking each piece to remove excess flour.

Swirl olive oil in a roasting pan and place floured chicken in it skin-side up. Season chicken with Herbes de Provence. Arrange the lemons, garlic cloves and shallots around the chicken, and add the vermouth to the pan.

Put pan in the oven and roast for 25 minutes, then baste chicken with the pan juices. Continue roasting for an additional 20 to 25 minutes or until the chicken is very crisp and the meat is cooked through.

Serve the chicken, shallots and garlic garnished with the thyme sprigs.

Serves 6

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