Golden Chicken Thighs with Charred-Lemon Salsa Verde


Ristorante Masolino in Panicale, Italy, has served chicken with lemon and capers for years. Chef Nancy Silverton makes the dish even better by roasting lemon slices, so they’re lightly charred, before stirring them into a piquant salsa verde. The sauce is an excellent accompaniment to these crisp-skinned chicken thighs, but it’s also great with roasted fish and vegetables. Slideshow:  More Chicken Thigh Recipes 

Golden Chicken Thighs with Charred-Lemon Salsa Verde
Photo: © John Kernick
Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
3 hrs 10 mins
6 to 8



  • 12 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs

  • 24 sage leaves

  • 16 garlic cloves—6 cut into 4 slices each, the rest gently smashed and peeled

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 slices

  • Strips of zest from 2 lemons

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme

  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano

  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • Kosher salt

  • 12 fresh bay leaves (optional)


  • 1 lemon, cut into 1/2-inch slices and seeded

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup chopped oregano

  • 1/4 cup chopped mint

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 1 anchovy fillet

  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped drained capers

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


Prepare the chicken

  1. Run your fingers under the skin of each chicken thigh to create a pocket. Stuff each pocket with 2 sage leaves, 2 slices of garlic and 1 slice of butter. Transfer the stuffed thighs to a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir the lemon zest strips with the smashed garlic, olive oil, chopped herbs and crushed red pepper. Pour the mixture over the chicken and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, make the salsa verde

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. On a baking sheet, toss the lemon slices with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread the lemon slices in an even layer and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until charred on the bottom. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool for 5 minutes. Chop the slices into 1/4 -inch pieces. Leave the oven on.

  2. In a mortar, mash the oregano and mint with the chopped garlic, anchovy, capers and the 1 teaspoon of salt until a smooth paste forms. Slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil, stirring to create a sauce. Stir in the chopped lemon.

  3. Heat a very large ovenproof skillet. Season the chicken thighs evenly with 4 teaspoons of salt; reserve the lemon zest and smashed garlic from the marinade. Arrange the chicken thighs skin side down in the skillet and cover with another large skillet or pot weighted down with a few heavy cans. Cook the chicken over moderate heat until the skin is golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes.

  4. Remove the weight and turn the chicken. Scatter the reserved lemon zest and garlic and the bay leaves, if using, among the thighs. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through. Discard the bay leaves. Transfer the chicken to a platter and serve with the salsa verde.

Make Ahead

The salsa verde can be refrigerated overnight. Serve at room temperature.

Suggested Pairing

The great acidity in Sangiovese-based Umbrian reds allows them to pair with lighter meats like chicken. Try this dish with a Montefalco Rosso.

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