Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mmm Yummy... Hump Day: Easy Lemon Spiced Chicken

I love food.  A lot.  BUT I don't think it should be a big production at home to the point where it stresses you out.  Or even to a point that you have to be in the kitchen longer than necessary for a weeknight dinner... or if you just don't feel like spending hours in the kitchen any day of the week.  Don't get me wrong, I really like to cook.  I just have no interest in trying to be a gourmand.  Moreover, if I'm going to spend time in the kitchen, it better be worth it!!  I only keep really good recipes.  Anything ehhh doesn't make it into the repertoire.  Mike and I are both sticklers for flavor.  I not only purposely choose recipes that seem to be full of flavor, but I never really follow a recipe exactly, instead adding more spices and flavor than the recipe calls for.  Must be the Pakistani in me.

This particular recipe, however, is one that I make just as the recipe calls for (okay, maybe I do a heaping measure of the spices, but close enough).  I got it out of a recipe book, The Newlyweds' Cookbook, from Pottery Barn that we received as an engagement gift a few years ago.  I couldn't really tell how it would come out when I first read the recipe or even as I was first making it and tasted the marinade, but it's become a go-to in our house.  The name is kind of deceiving- this is not lemony per se, like your average lemon chicken.  Instead, it bursts with perfectly spiced (not spicy like hot, but very aromatic and savory), slightly tangy and smokey deliciousness; the meat is fall-off the bone tender and juicy, and the skin crisps to perfection.... with very little hands-on time (score 1 for me!).  It really couldn't be easier- prep time at most is as long as it takes to preheat you oven.  

It's great for a nice, easy weeknight meal without a whole lot of preparation but fancy and impressive enough to serve to company (it is in the easy entertaining section of the cookbook).  Either way, I serve it with some sort of rice or grain (I usually do a Near East or even Rice a Roni Whole Grain blend) and a vegetable (either something like green beans with some lemon zest, or even just good, sliced tomatoes with good olive oil, salt and pepper- one of Mike's faves)... et voila... a seriously delicious meal made simple... 'cause you know that's how I roll!

Lemon-Spiced Chicken

Note: The recipe calls for chicken thighs (bone-in), which I personally love, but you can add bone-in chicken breasts, or even do a whole cut-up chicken if you prefer white meat.

8-16 Chicken pieces, preferably thighs (allow 2-4 per person)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika (before I picked some up in Barcelona, I used regular paprika.  It worked just fine, although the noticeably smokey Spanish variety does add a little something.  Both are pictured.)
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
a small bunch of thyme sprigs, fresh or dried (I use fresh)
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Trim any excess fat from the chicken pieces.  Put the chicken in a baking dish large enough to hold them comfortably (or divide between 2 dishes).  Put the oil, lemon juice, spices and herbs into a bowl (I use a 1-2 c. Pyrex measuring cup, which makes it easy/clean to pour) and mix well.  Pour over the chicken and turn to coat well.  Cover and set aside for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours (I've done less than 30 minutes before and prepared it the day before to pop in the oven for the following evening's meal, and both work fine).

Make sure the chicken pieces are skin side up in the dish and roast in a preheated oven at 400 degrees fahrenheit until browned and cooked through, 50-60 minutes (I usually go the whole 60).  Serve immediately with the pan juices poured over.

No comments:

Post a Comment