This is how you take roasted chicken to the next level, and it’s something you can prepare in the morning and finish when you’re back from work or school. Or, better yet, start on Saturday and make it for Sunday dinner. Serve with steamed rice, salad, or whatever vegetable looks good at the market that day. My personal favorite is a big salad and a side of cucumbers, lime, cilantro, and mint.
- Have the butcher remove the chicken leg tips, or do it yourself with the heel of a chef’s knife. Rinse off the chicken and pat it very dry with paper towels. Place the chicken in a bowl and season with the salt. Rub well all over and distribute the salt evenly. Allow to sit for at least 1 hour while you make the mayonnaise blend, or up to 24 hours.
- Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well to incorporate fully. Taste to make sure it is to your liking—it should be bright, slightly aggressive, and clean. Make any adjustments you feel are necessary. Put 7 tablespoons of red curry mayonnaise in a heavy-duty zippered storage bag. Take the remaining mayonnaise mixture and store in a container to serve later with the finished chicken legs.
- Add the chicken legs to the bag with the mayonnaise. Seal the bag and massage to fully distribute the mayonnaise all over the chicken legs. Place the bag with the chicken legs in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
- Before you’re ready to start cooking, place the legs, skin side up, on a roasting rack or aluminum foil–lined sheet tray or baking sheet, spreading out any skin so it will roast evenly. This is optional, but I like to leave the chicken on the rack in the fridge for an hour or more. This will dry out the chicken skin slightly, resulting in a crispier finish.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Grind some fresh black pepper onto the skin of each leg prior to baking. Roast the legs for 30 minutes undisturbed. If the smoke becomes too aggressive in the last 10 minutes, you can carefully add approximately 1 cup of water to the tray to stop the smoking, but only if you are using a rack. Do not add any water if the legs are directly on the foil.
- Remove carefully from the oven and allow to rest fully in a warm spot for at least 10 minutes. Serve with rice and salad, or just eat straightaway.
Rob Newton is a chef, former restaurateur, culinarily curious person, and Arkansas native. He is the coauthor of Seeking the South, a cookbook focused on regional Southern cuisine, and a travel food (and general travel) enthusiast. He has just finished a nomadic year, and now you can find him in a local farmers’ market.