Roasted Chicken in a Cast Iron Skillet

Sunday supper is a tradition my family holds dear. Sure, when I was a bratty teenager, I might’ve resented mandatory attendance when all my friends were flirting with boys and skin cancer by the rec center pool. But now that I’m older, I have a more adult (and gluttonous) appreciation for the care and love that goes into a home-cooked meal. Especially if it’s roasted chicken in a cast iron skillet.

Roasted chicken in a cast iron skilletI hope you’re not picturing my mom slaving over a hot stove by herself. That’ll be the day. Mom wanted her girls to cook and cook well. My sister and I were expected to carry on the family recipes, have decent knife skills and keep a cast-iron skillet perfectly seasoned. The family that sautés together, stays together, right?

Speaking of cast-iron skillets, we use ours to roast chicken more often than fry it. Cooking with cast iron has several health benefits, such as providing a chemical-free alternative to non-stick pans and boosting the iron content of your foods. Skillets are also cheap, versatile and last forever.

Roasted chicken in a cast iron skilletRoasted chicken in a cast iron skillet (or any oven-proof dish*) is so easy and flavorful, and once you master the technique, it can be seasoned dozens of different ways. My favorite variation has tons of lemon zest and oregano. I cook more by technique than recipe so here’s how I make it.

Roasted Chicken in a cast iron skillet

  • Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees.
  • On the stove, heat some oil in your cast-iron skillet till it’s almost smoking.
  • Season 6 skin-on, bone-in** chicken pieces (I like legs and thighs) with a healthy dose of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
  • Put in pan, careful not to overcrowd and brown, skin-side down, for 3-4 minutes.
  • Flip when nicely browned and do the other side for 3-4 minutes.
  • Sprinkle chicken (now skin-side up) with zest from two lemons and about 2 Tbs. fresh chopped oregano
  • Squeeze in lemon juice, careful not to let it pop back on you.
  • Put skillet in oven (a terrifying journey, so make sure no pets are underfoot)
  • Roast 1 hour, turning occasionally to coat chicken in juices.
  • Got a cooking thermometer? Use it. You want an internal temp of 165. No thermometer? Get one.

Easy, right? The black pepper seared into the crispy skin is the secret to great roasted or fried chicken. And the jolt of lemon? Divine.

Roasted chicken in a cast iron skillet

I serve this chicken with orzo tossed with feta, lemon juice, sautéd asparagus, tomatoes and kalamata olives. Remove the chicken from the pan, dump off any excess grease (there usually isn’t a lot) and sauté the veggies in the chicken skillet, scraping up the yummy browned bits. Toss with the hot pasta, juice and zest of two lemons and as much feta as you like. It melts into a light, saucy coating. Serve with the chicken and enjoy.

Do you love Sunday supper at much as I do? Is it a family tradition? Ever tried roasted chicken? I’d love to hear what you serve. Tell me in the comments below.

*I’m passionate about cast iron but if you’ve yet to fall in love with its versatility or don’t have one handy, you can sear this chicken in any skillet then transfer to a baking dish.

**Does this work with boneless, skinless chicken breasts? Eh, not so much. If you go that route reduce the cooking time to 45 minutes.

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