Simple chicken entree bursts with flavor
November 3, 2009
Roast chicken with olives and lemon is a Moroccan specialty, and this simple version is a personal favorite. And you don’t need a tagine, the distinctive North African clay roasting pot with a conical top, to achieve tasty results.
Don’t be afraid of the number of garlic cloves in this recipe. They become deliciously caramelized and act as a thickening agent, adding a wonderful nutty richness to the sauce. Many stores now sell peeled garlic cloves, which makes it a snap to put this together.
These days there are many different chicken varieties available. Look for air-chilled chickens, which are firmer and tastier than water-chilled chickens that add extra liquid to the bird but less flavor. Kosher chickens are also good since they are salted, which helps keep them moist. Of course, organic chickens are always something to consider since the birds are fed organic food and given no antibiotics. It’s fun to try different varieties to discover your personal favorite.
Cook the chicken in a shallow roasting pan that can be brought to the table for a casual presentation. Use a microplaner to grate the lemon zest before squeezing the juice. If you can find Meyer lemons, use them in this dish. Serve with roasted vegetables or a vegetable rice pilaf for a hearty and satisfying fall dinner.
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• The lemon-herb mixture can be made 4 hours ahead, covered and kept at room temperature.
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• Double the recipe and use for a chicken salad the next day.
• Look for green pitted olives, and make sure to rinse them before adding them to the sauce.
• Add black and green olives for a contrast of color.
Roast Lemon Garlic Chicken with Green Olives
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon zest
1⁄3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs – any combination of rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil and oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
25 peeled whole garlic cloves, ends cut off
1 (31⁄2-pound) chicken, cut up
3⁄4 cup chicken stock
1⁄3 cup pitted green olives
1. Combine the zest, lemon juice, olive oil, 1⁄4 cup herbs, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Mix to combine.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Arrange the chicken pieces in a roasting pan, and pour over the lemon herb mixture. Arrange the garlic cloves all around the chicken, moving them to coat with the mixture. Roast for about 40 minutes or until the chicken pieces are nicely browned and no pink color remains.
3. Remove chicken from oven. Add the stock and deglaze the pan on top of the stove on medium-high heat. Sprinkle on the olives and toss them around to heat through. You should have a nicely deglazed sauce. Garnish with remaining 2 tablespoons of herbs and serve right from the pan.
• Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Holidays,” and also a James Beard award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at http://www.seriouslysimple.com.)