Chicken on a bed of onions Chicken on a bed of onions Israeli Kitchen Photo: Paul Cowan/Shutterstock

Chicken roasted on a bed of onions

If you're a fan of onions, this recipe will have you salivating.

  • Yield: Serves 6
  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes

I had this chicken that needed cooking. But I was bored with all my usual recipes. I stood in my kitchen, revolving ideas around in my mind. Nothing doing; empty head. Well, I do have a lot of cookbooks. Why not open the cabinet where I keep them and get a recipe?

Nah. Too logical.

So I stood there with a blank mind until my hand, obeying some part of my brain still responding to self-preservation, opened the cabinet and pulled out Elizabeth David’s “Mediterranean Cooking.” All kinds of good chicken recipes are in there. One was so simple and attractive, I just had to make it. Of course, once I got the chicken into the roasting pan, I had to spice it up with more seasonings. But I don’t think Ms. David would have disapproved – the result was so delicious.

Every bite of the seasoned chicken is perfumed with oniony goodness. And what I really like is how you get all different degrees of onion doneness. Under the chicken, the slices are soft and sweet and sort of bind together. Just around the sides, the onion caramelizes and you lift these savory brown rings off the pan. Way off to the edge of the pan, the slices are crisp, toasted almost black. You’d best like onions if you plan to cook this.

Another neat thing is, since it’s such a simple recipe, you can up- or downscale the quantities and always get delicious results. Even if it’s one portion to be cooked in a toaster oven, it’ll work.


  • 1 chicken, cut into eight pieces
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried, rubbed sage
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • More olive oil, for drizzling


Place the sliced onions in a shallow baking pan, in a low heap. Pour the quarter-cup of olive oil over them. Place the chicken pieces on top.

Squeeze the lemon halves over the chicken, making sure that each piece gets plenty of juice. Tuck the juiced lemon pieces under the chicken. Allow it to stand for 5 minutes.

Drizzle a little more oil over the chicken, to give the seasonings something to stick to. Shake a little kosher salt over the pieces of chicken, and grind black pepper to taste over it. Scatter the thyme and sage over the chicken.

Roast at 350° F (180° C) for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the chicken is cooked through and golden.

Serve with rice, or for a perfect winter’s dinner, mashed potatoes. Green beans with blanched almonds go very well with this, as does a big, leafy salad with vinaigrette.

Related Topics: Meat and Poultry, Mediterranean

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