Chicken Pieces Roasted with Rosemary, Red Onion & Red Potatoes



By Cat, Jan 2009 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

See also: 1. Poultry & Fowl Menu; 2. Roasting a Bird;

While my favorite way to prepare chicken pieces is a braise, in the winter I like to roast chicken to keep my kitchen warm. And I love the way the skin gets golden and crispy. I have only used butterflied game hen for this recipe, and I love it.

Chicken is a natural with herbs, as in this recipe and many others on my site.

Chicken Roasted with Rosemary, Red Onion & Red Potatoes

This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking (1), originally by Lori Longbotham, and makes a great presentation for a special dinner.

The original recipe calls for 8 chicken thighs to serve 4, but since I start with a whole chicken that I cut up myself, I use the legs and wings of one chicken to serve 2 – 3. Or add a half breast cut in half again, crosswise, to serve 4 (and save the other half breast for something else). If I use breast meat, I brine it for 30-minutes first. For all pieces I leave the bone in and skin on.

Another option is to use 1 Game Hen to serve 2, or 2 hens to serve 4. Butterfly, brine for 2 hours; cut into halves after roasting.

Ingredients to serve 2

  • Chicken: 2 legs + 2 wings; or ½ chicken in pieces: thigh, drumstick, wing & brined half-breast (halved again after roasting); or 1 game hen, butterflied & brined, then halved after roasting
  • 1 orange
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil (originally 2 Tbsp but adjusted after testing)
  • ½ tsp dried red chile flakes (originally ¼ tsp but adjusted after testing)
  • ½ tsp unrefined sea salt (only if didn’t brine chicken)
  • 4 baby red potatoes (6 oz)
  • 1 medium red onion
  • one 5” sprig fresh rosemary
  • ¼ tsp dried rosemary (or minced fresh rosemary leaves)

Ingredients to serve 4:

  • Chicken: pieces of 1 whole chicken (less one half breast): 2 each thighs, drumsticks, and wings, plus 1 brined half-breast halved again crosswise after roasting, crosswise; or 2 game hens, butterflied & brined, then halved after roasting
  • 2 oranges
  • 6 – 8 Tbsp olive oil  (originally 4 Tbsp but adjusted after testing)
  • ½ – 1 tsp dried red chile flakes  (originally ½ tsp but adjusted after testing)
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary (or minced fresh rosemary leaves)
  • 1 tsp unrefined sea salt (only if didn’t brine chicken)
  • 8 baby red potatoes (12 oz)
  • 2 medium red onions
  • two 5” sprigs fresh rosemary


  • small & medium bowls
  • rimmed baking sheet or baking pan
  • Serving bowl and platter; or shallow serving bowl


  1. Brining (optional): I recommend brining chicken breasts or butterflied game hens.
  2. Prep: Preheat oven to 425°F.
  3. Grate ½ tsp orange zest (for serving 2) or 1 tsp zest (for serving 4).
  4. Section the orange, removing pith and membranes; see How to Section an Orange,  below. Keep sections in juice until ready to use, then cut into ½” pieces and stir in half of the dried rosemary (or snipped fresh rosemary).
  5. Scrub and halve potatoes; cut onions in half crosswise, then each half into 8 wedges.
  6. Combine zest, oil, salt, chile flakes, chopped dried/fresh rosemary, and leaves of ½ sprig rosemary (for serving 2) or 1 sprig (for serving 4).
  7. Toss veggies with a third of the oil mixture in medium bowl. Arrange as a single layer at one end * of the baking sheet. Arrange chicken, skin-side up, at the other end * of the baking sheet and brush with remaining oil mixture. (* Alternately, arrange veggie mixture in baking pan and sprinkle lightly with salt, then arrange chicken pieces/butterflied game hen on top of the veggies; brush meat with remaining oil mixture and sprinkle with salt only if not brined). Tuck remaining sprigs of rosemary around the meat (for game hen, tuck under wings and/or legs).
  8. Roast 20 minutes, brush-basting chicken with pan drippings, and giving the veggies a stir (if not under the meat). Continue to roast, baste every 10 min until chicken skin looks crisp and golden, and potatoes are lightly browned in spots, about 30 minutes more.
  9. When meat is done, remove the rosemary sprigs and discard. Stir veggies and transfer to serving bowl. Stir in remaining dried rosemary.
  10. Baste chicken one more time and transfer to serving platter, top with orange mixture, and serve hot with the veggies.

How to Section an Orange, without pith and Membranes

  1. Cut off both ends of orange; stand it up on one end.
  2. Using sharp paring knife, cut off peel and pith, following curves of orange.
  3. Working over a bowl, cut each section free of its membrane (slice right next to membrane on both sides, and remove section).
  4. When all sections are removed, squeeze what remains of the orange to release juice.  Keep sections in juice until ready to use,


2/24-25/10: Brined 1 game hen, cut into 2 halves, adding rosemary to the brine. Made up oil mix: snipped rosemary leaves into little pieces, into the oil; added salt and red pepper flakes; grated zest of ½ orange (½ tsp), then removed peel but not all the pith came off. Separated into sections but didn’t remove membrane. Squeezed one section to make juice and added a bit of water so the sections had their feet in the liquid. Prepared veggies, tossed with ⅓ of the oil mix, as instructed at one end of baking sheet, game hen at other end, skin up. Brushed hen with some of the oil mix and realized I would need more, so added more oil; adjusted recipe accordingly to provide more oil mixture. Basted after 10 minutes, then every 10 minutes 3 more times; total roasting time 1 hour. Result: Potatoes were tender (just) with a golden crust. Onions were tender. Hen was just done but not falling off bones. Flavors were quite good but could have used more rosemary.

Testing 11/1-2/14: Made as written, with butterflied, brined game hen, but used more rosemary and olive oil as per previous testing, and cut potatoes into quarters because they were larger than in recipe. Used pyrex baking pan and placed hen on top of potato/onion combo. Had same trouble (as last test) with sectioning orange without pith & membranes; after sectioning I added snipped fresh rosemary and then let it rest in fridge for about 6 hours. Difficult to baste because very little liquid, so added 2 Tbsp water after 30 minutes in oven, then basted every 10 min until done; total roasting time 1 hour, 15 minutes. Result: Delicious, and the orange segments are a nice accompaniment with the heat of the chili flakes. Potatoes were just done.


  1. Fine Cooking, originally by Lori Longbotham (

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