Savory Chicken Tray- or Cast Iron Pan-Bake

Feb 23, 2022; photo, right, from Wikipedia


I’ve adapted this recipe from one in our local newspaper, the Daily Interlake, in Kalispell MT, Feb 23, 2022 edition. The writer did not provide the source of the recipe.

The original recipe bakes chicken breasts or thighs (bone-in, skin-on) on a tray, flavored with fennel and coriander (in addition to salt and pepper); then a light sauce is made using the drippings, juice from a lemon, and olive oil, then garnished with fresh tarragon. Just reading the recipe made my mouth water.

However, I would prefer to use my 12-inch cast iron skillet rather than a tray (rimmed baking sheet), and I definitely would not use an aluminum baking sheet.  Conclusion after 2/25/22 testing: YES! using my cast iron skillet worked great, and was easier and safer to heat the drippings on the stove-top than using a tray.

See also: 1. Poultry/Fowl Menu; 2. Herbs & Spices (About)

Savory Chicken Tray-Bake

You can use chicken-breast halves, or thighs; just be sure they are bone-in/skin-on. The original recipe calls for 3 pounds of the meat (as in recipe below), but I will cut it in half for my testing. I do not use commercial chicken, as most are kept indoors and are not properly fed; instead, I buy from a local farmer I trust.

For herbs and spices, I use Organic if available; I also grow my own tarragon as it is one of my fav herbs.

Ingredients and Equipment

  • 3 lb bone-in/skin-on chicken half-breasts or thighs, from a locally-raised chicken (pasture-fed), brined
  • 1 Tbsp unrefined sea salt or non-iodized salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed (I use my mortar and pestle)
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander (I use mortar and pestle, then sift  shells through strainer to remove, then grind again)
  • 1 bunch scallions (green onions), washed and cut into 1½ lengths (white and green parts)
  • 1 Organic lemon, washed  and halved (for juice)
  • Organic olive oil, or olive oil from a specific grower (for drizzling)*
  • chopped, fresh or dried tarragon, to taste
  • Equipment

    Mortar and Pestle

  • 12-inch or larger cast iron skillet (rather than rimmed baking sheet as in original recipe)
  • mortar and pestle (image, right, from Wikipedia)
  • knife
  • wooden spoon or other stirring object
  • serving platter

* see my article: Olive Oil: The Real Deal, or Adulterated/Fake


  1. Preheat oven to  450°F.
  2. Rinse and dry chicken pieces, leaving skin and bones in-place. Arrange in rimmed baking sheet or cast iron skillet, skin-side up.
  3. Drizzle with oil, then sprinkle with crushed fennel seeds, ground coriander, salt and pepper.
  4. Roast about 30-40 minutes, until breast meat reaches 160°F, or thigh meat reaches 175°F.
  5. Transfer meat to serving platter.
  6. Squeeze juice from lemon-halves over drippings on tray/skillet. Then scatter scallion pieces around the tray/skillet, and stir to combine with the juices.
  7. Spoon juice mix around chicken pieces on platter, then sprinkle all over with tarragon.
  8. Serve!


Originally I planned to do 1 half breast and 2 thighs, but could not find bone-in/skin-on breast at local store, so will do 6 thighs (2.6 lb) using recipe as written. (Maybe do the breast/thigh combo later).

Testing: 2/25/22

Preheated oven (450°). Used ~ 3 lb thighs (8 thighs, bone-in, skin on), and used my mortar and pestle to crush the fennel seeds and grind coriander, then mixed the two together. Arranged thighs, skin-side down in skillet; oiled then seasoned thighs with fennel/coriander mix,  salt and pepper; turned thighs over and repeated oiling and seasoning, into oven at 6 PM; checked meat temp at 6:30, but only 130°F, so back into the oven — OOPS, realized oven was mistakenly set to 425°, so increased to 450°. Tested again at 6:42 – up to 150°F.  Back into oven, then tested again at 6:52 – up to 168° so almost there (needs to be 175° for thighs). Back into oven and tested again at 7 PM –  only 170°, so back in oven for another 10 min; 175° and done at 7:10 PM, total 1 hr, 10 min. (I think the reason it took longer than 40 min to bake done, was because I didn’t realize my error in setting oven temp, until I started testing for doneness). Transferred thighs to glass storage container; squeezed lemon juice over juices in skillet, then added cut-up scallions and let simmer on stove-top about 3 min, stirring, to soften scallions just a bit. Poured and spooned liquids over thighs in storage container, and sprinkled tarragon over. Served 1 thigh for my dinner, with baked squash, beet and braised broccoli. Result: Great meal, and the chicken is delicious!

Future Testing _ date

I cut recipe approximately in half for 2 servings, adjusting amount of herbs and spices as needed. I will cut the half-breast in half before serving.

  • 1 large half-breast (about 16 oz) and 2 thighs (4-5 oz each), bone-in/skin-on, from a locally-raised chicken (pasture-fed)
  • 1½ – 2 tsp unrefined sea salt or non-iodized salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • ¾ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ bunch scallions (green onions), washed and cut into 1½ lengths (white and green parts)
  • 1 small Organic lemon or ½ large Organic lemon, for juice
  • Organic olive oil, or olive oil from a specific grower (for drizzling)
  • chopped, fresh tarragon, to taste [if fresh tarragon is not available – out of season – I’ll use less dried]

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