« The Pantry Quiz #36 | Main | Cooking from my Rhode Island pantry, and a new cookbook »

Black pepper (Recipe: Laurie Colwin's roasted pepper chicken) {gluten-free}

First published in February 2008, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. If you haven't reread Laurie Colwin's books recently, this chicken recipe will remind you of her honest approach to cooking.

Roasted pepper chicken, good hot or cold.

A few days ago, when I was searching for the source of a literary fragment rattling around in my brain, I stumbled across this:

It takes four men to dress a salad: a wise man for the salt, a madman for the pepper, a miser for the vinegar, and a spendthrift for the oil.

Anonymous, who supposedly said this, obviously didn't know the guys I know.

Oh, don't get me wrong; I know wise men, madmen, cheapskates and spendthrifts. But I think that any of them, especially the ones who come to cook in my kitchen, could pull off a proper vinaigrette without the help of three other guys.


Vinaigrette always includes pepper, but so does almost every savory dish I cook -- and some sweets, as well. In the early years of the spice trade, black pepper was worth its weight in gold, literally, and that's still true today. I don't want to try to pay my mortgage with pepper, but I don't want to make very many dishes without it.

Peppers grown in different places have distinctive flavor and pungency, and I keep several different varieties, in different grinds or whole peppercorns, in my pantry. The world's major producers are India, Indonesia, Brazil, Malaysia and Vietnam, and the black peppers from these countries have varying amounts of essential oils and piperine, which gives pepper its bite. I've always got Malabar and Tellicherry peppers from India, and Sarawak pepper from Malaysia. Vietnamese pepper -- I received some as a gift -- is quite mild, and I've never tasted black pepper from Brazil, which is said to be a bit bland.

I used to be a purist about ground pepper; nothing would do except grind-as-you-go. For the past few years, though, I've been buying coarse-ground Tellicherry pepper from Penzeys. An eight-ounce bag costs less than $10. It couldn't be more delicious; it's aromatic, with a wonderful kick. And I love the way it looks -- like pepper, not like dust. 

Laurie Colwin's roasted chicken (The Perfect Pantry).

Laurie Colwin's roasted pepper chicken

From the pantry, you'll need: dried thyme, black pepper, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, ground cloves, paprika, garlic, butter.

Laurie Colwin's name has come up a lot lately, as Arlo and I have been enjoying some of her writing. This recipe is adapted ever so slightly from Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, one of those books I turn to again and again. Serves 6-8.


1 chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces, or assorted leg/thigh and breast pieces, on the bone
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1/2 Tbsp black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp brown sugar
Pinch of ground clove
1/2 tsp paprika
2 cloves garlic, slivered
2 tsp butter


Place the chicken pieces on a rimmed sheet pan or roasting pan.

In a small bowl, combine the thyme, black pepper, red pepper, brown sugar, and clove. Rub this on both sides of the chicken and set aside for an hour.

When it's time to cook, heat the oven to 375°F.

Dust the chicken with paprika, slivers of garlic, and pats of butter.

Bake for 45-55 minutes or until the chicken is done as you like it and the skin is crisp.

Serve it hot, room temperature, or shredded in a salad.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Peggy's barbecued brisket
Slow-roasted tomato bruschetta
Tarragon omeletta
French potato salad
Garlic chicken on skewers (shish taouk)

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Smoked paprika roasted chicken, from Simply Recipes
Buttermilk roast chicken, from Smitten Kitchen
Garlic-paprika chicken wings, from Leite's Culinaria
Honey garlic chicken, from The Shiksa in the Kitchen
Roast chicken with chamomile and oregano, from Kalofagas

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


This does look just delicious. I'm a heavy pepper user; I love it on everything! (And do you believe I have never read a word by Laurie Colwin. Need to fix that.)

I love pepper! and I also need to read Laurie Colwin!

Kalyn, Carol: you absolutely need to read Laurie Colwin. She was a wonderful writer who died too young, but she left an incredible legacy of food writing and recipes.

I'd forgotten about Laurie Colwin - thanks for reminding us. I'm also a big fan of Aleppo pepper.

Jean, I think we should all reread Laurie Colwin every couple of years!

This looks like a divine spice combo - and I'm always looking for new roasted chicken recipes.

Donna, I never get tired of roast chicken, but I do get tired of fixing it the same old way. This spice combination is terrific, and it just might become your new favorite.

I fixed a roast chicken just today for dinner. Sure, it's not particularly "Memorial Day" ish, but it suits my mood. I'm stuck on the Penzey's Bicentennial Rub for my roast chicken, but I need to investigate Home Cooking. Thanks!

I do love Penzey's coarse ground pepper (and all their peppers actually) - the texture is great for roasted chicken - going to have to try this next time roast chicken.

Kirsten, I've never tried that particular rub, so I'll look that up, while you delve into Laurie Colwin!

Jeanette, I use a ridiculous amount of that coarse ground pepper, so it never has a chance to get old in my pantry.

This goes perfectly shredded in salad.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.