Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 ½ hours
2 small lemons (about 6 ½ ounces|184 grams)
2 ¾ pounds|1.2 kilograms bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
16 slices (½-inch thick) sourdough bread
1 cup|200 grams mayonnaise
2 small vine-ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
¾ cup pitted green olives, such as Castelvetrano, Cerignola, Ligurian, or Picholine, finely chopped
- Heat the oven to 400°F. Working over a blender, use a Microplane grater to remove the zest from the lemons, letting it fall in the blender; set the blender aside. On a cutting board, trim off the stem and bud ends from the lemons then cut them in half across their equators. Place the lemon halves on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Arrange the chicken thighs or breasts on the baking sheet then drizzle the chicken and lemon halves with the olive oil, tossing to coat evenly. Arrange the chicken pieces skin side up and the lemon halves cut side up. Season the chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper. Roast until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through and the lemon halves are caramelized, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer the sheet to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes; keep the oven on.
- Using a metal spatula, scrape the lemon halves off the baking sheet, pick out and discard any seeds, then place the entire lemon halves in the blender with their zest. Carefully peel off the skin from the chicken pieces and lay it flat on the baking sheet. Transfer the chicken pieces to a cutting board and let cool.
- Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast until the skins are crisped, 15 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and immediately transfer the skins to paper towels to drain and cool.
- Arrange half the bread slices in a single layer on the baking sheet, press lightly so they soak up any fat left behind, then flip over and press lightly again. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake until the bread is toasted and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the bread slices to a rack and let cool. Repeat toasting the remaining half of the bread slices.
- Add the mayonnaise to the blender with the lemons, and puree until smooth. Season the lemon mayo with salt and pepper. Makes about 1 ½ cups.
- Assemble the sandwiches: Place all bread slices on a cutting board and spread each with about 1 ½ tablespoons of the lemon mayo. Thinly slice the chicken, divide it among 8 bread slices, and season the chicken with more salt and pepper. Top the chicken with the chicken skins, breaking them up to fit, then top with the red onion and tomato slices. Divide the chopped olives among the sandwiches.
- Top with the other bread slices and press lightly to compress the sandwich fillings. Wrap each sandwich in a square of parchment paper or foil like a deli sandwich or burrito, place in a large plastic container, and pack into a cooler to take the beach.
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