Friday, March 21, 2014

Lemon Chicken

We had dinner at Foodie’s house last week and she made Lemon Chicken. Lemon Chicken is one of those tangy, herby and savory culinary experiences that, once devoured, make us sit back and sigh with sheer contentment. The lemon totally shines in this dish, and any cut of boneless chicken will work, but Foodie used thighs because they tend to be more flavorful and a bit juicier.  The chicken also dazzles in this recipe and thighs are confident enough to declare, “step aside, lemon and herbs, I’m here too and I intend to make a meaningful contribution!”  And they do.

The sauce.  Well let me say, you could practically drink the sauce.  Just pick up the baking dish and chug away; it’s that good. 
I thought about it but comments would have followed and this is a relatively small town.

Thighs add a lot of flavor to this sauce and that fact prompted the question...why do chicken legs and thighs work better in casserole-type dishes? Well, let me tell you why.  As you know, chicken thighs are dark meat and dark meat contains slightly more fat and collagen, and that makes the meat juicer and more flavorful.  Dark meat also contains more nutrients than white meat. 

The dark meat bad rap began many years ago when chickens would run free around the farms of America.  All that scampering made for strong thigh and leg muscles and that, in turn, produced a tougher dark meat.  Hence the American love affair with white meat began.  The chickens of today (sadly) don’t get as much exercise as their turn-of-the-century counterparts so the difference in toughness between white and dark meat is minimal, but the dark meat stills stands up better in casseroles and braises.  
I visited Key West in 2008 and the island is filled with beautiful feral chickens, which are protected there.  We had dinner at a charming Key West restaurant and attraction called Blue Haven and as we were dining, the chickens happily sauntered up to our table.  I was born and raised with concrete under my feet (otherwise known as the "city") and do not have a lick of experience with chickens so, for fear of being pecked, I kept my hands to myself, far away from the poultry pilgrims.  Anyway, the chickens roam freely about the island, much like pigeons do in other cities.  Their colors are truly magnificent.
I bet with all that exercise their thigh muscles are strong!
Lemon Chicken

One large onion
5 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of two lemons
2 lemons, sliced
Salt and pepper
Fresh thyme
1 box frozen artichoke hearts
2 tablespoons of capers
8-10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Mince the onion and garlic.  Place the chicken thighs, minced onion, garlic, artichoke hearts, capers and sliced lemons in a baking dish, pour the olive oil and lemon juice over the chicken mixture and season with salt & pepper and fresh thyme. Put a few dots of butter on top. Bake it at 400 for about 25 minutes then broil for a few minutes more until the top is browned a bit. Serve with jasmine rice flavored with saffron.

Shamrocks bejeweled the table and we had baked apples with hazelnuts for dessert.

Chicken image from google images.

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