In addition to the lemon and fresh herbs, the chicken thighs are flavored with an emulsified mash of garlic, salt, and olive oil, called allioli. I like to garnish each plate of chicken with a spoonful of romesco sauce.
Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic with a large pinch of salt to create a coarse paste (or use a small mixing bowl and the back of a spoon, or mince the garlic very finely on a cutting board). Add the oil very slowly in drops while pounding and grinding the paste, continuing until the allioli is thick, creamy, and emulsified. Put the chicken in a bowl. Rub the allioli all over, including under the skin. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
A pestle is perfect for pounding garlic, salt, and olive oil to a creamy paste. Photo: Sarah Jay.
Heat the oven to 425°F and set an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Arrange the lemon slices in one layer in a large shallow roasting pan or baking dish (9x13x2 inches is good). Top each slice with a piece of rosemary and thyme and a sage leaf. Set the chicken thighs, skin side up, on top; sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper. Bake until the skin is golden and the juices are clear, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Sometimes the lemons and chicken produce a lot of juices, in which case you can make a delicious pan sauce. Transfer the chicken (keeping the herbs and lemon slices underneath) to a plate and cover loosely with foil. Tilt the pan to pool the juices in one corner. Spoon off the fat that rises to the top. Set the pan over medium heat (if the pan isn't flameproof, pour the juices into a small skillet) and scrape up any stuck-on juices. Let the juices boil and reduce so they thicken to a saucy consistency. Drizzle the sauce around, not on, the chicken to maintain the crisp skin.
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Photo: Scott Phillips