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Roasted Chicken and Bread with Fennel-Arugula Salad

Time1 hour
YieldsServes 4
Breads roasts under chicken legs to become crispy and saturated in chicken juices in this one-pot dish.
(Jennifer Chong / For The Times; prop styling by Kate Parisian)
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This simple chicken dish basically looks after itself with minimal attention needed from the cook. While the chicken roasts, it renders its fat and juices into the bread below, which gets exceedingly crunchy — like a giant crouton. The acidic fennel and arugula salad lightens the chicken well, and can be made with any salad greens you like.

1

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

2

Cover the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or large Dutch oven with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Arrange the bread, two lemon halves, and the garlic halves snugly in the dish. Season the bread with a little salt and place the chicken legs on top. Season the chicken generously on both sides with salt, then arrange skin side up. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the chicken.

3

Place the chicken in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Pour the water into the dish (avoid pouring it over the chicken) then reduce the oven to 375 degrees. Continue to cook, undisturbed, until the legs are golden, crispy and cooked through, and the bread is crunchy and brown on the bottom, 40 to 50 minutes longer.

4

While the chicken cooks, thinly slice the fennel with a mandolin or very sharp knife. Place it in a bowl with ice water and let sit for at least 10 minutes (this helps it get nice and crunchy). Use a salad spinner or a kitchen towel to dry it well and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the arugula.

5

When the chicken is ready, toss the fennel and arugula with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the juice from 1 of the remaining lemon halves, and season with salt. Serve the salad with the chicken-soaked bread, chicken, roasted garlic and extra wedges from the remaining lemon half for squeezing over each serving.

Using Stale Bread
You’ll want to use stale bread for roasting under the chicken for this recipe to maximize crispiness. Plan ahead to set the slices out on a baking sheet at room temperature at least 1 day before you plan to use them. If you use fresh bread, the recipe will still work; the bread just won’t be as crisp.