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Oval chicken

This is my husband’s recipe, created from his time living in London’s Oval, where friends were always welcome and you never quite knew how many people might or might not drop in for dinner.


The beauty of the dish is you can increase the number of joints and always have perfect, lemony, juicy meat with crisp skin. Its important to have a pan (or more) that will fit all of your joints as snugly together as possible.


Its so easy to do and universally loved that we make Oval chicken all the time - for lazy evenings in, dinners with friends, relatives or picky eaters.


The quantities of seasonings are given as general guidelines only - go with what you think looks good to eat.


Serves two




4 thighs, or 2 whole legs jointed into 4 pieces

6 fat cloves of garlic

6 sprigs of thyme (or lemon thyme or rosemary)

1 pinch chilli flakes

½ unwaxed lemon

olive oil

salt and pepper

1 glass white wine


What to do


Preheat a fan assisted oven to 200°C (400°F).


Find an ovenproof dish that will fit all the joints snugly with skin exposed and flesh hidden. Oil the dish, season the joints with salt and pepper and add, turning to cover in oil. Slice the lemon into quarters and place a segment underneath each joint along with a sprig of thyme. Tuck the rest of the thyme and the garlic cloves (unpeeled) into any remaining gaps between the chicken. Scatter over the chilli flakes and season again lightly.


Place in the hot oven for 20 minutes, it should come out sizzling lightly in the fat, with the skin just beginning to brown. Add enough white wine to come about halfway up the dish, being careful not to splash the skin. This will keep the meat moist while the skin crisps.


Return to the oven and lower the temperature to 180°C (350°F). Cook for a further 20-25 minutes until the skin looks crisp and brown.


Remove, serve and pour over the delicious juices. Salad is a great accompaniment, or little potatoes roasted on a rack under the chicken for the same time. We had purple sprouting broccoli, steamed for three minutes then tossed with butter and salted.



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