Lemon and chicken really are the ultimate palates.
Chicken and lemon are great companions. I always add a lemon halved when roasting a chicken, and in this dish the combination of the lemon, wine, mustard and olives goes so well together.
A number of chicken slicing options have been used. I used bone in, skin on thighs, but these aren’t always available (at least where I shop). My next choice would be bone, skin on chicken thighs as they are more tender and flavorful than the brisket.
That said, chicken breasts are an option, with skin on if possible, for the oily appearance and golden skin — depending on the size, you may want to cut them in half for cooking.
If you don’t have white wine, as I know we don’t always have a bottle of white wine, use water mixed with a small splash (1 teaspoon) of white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar). On that note, a dry apple cider would also work well in place of the wine here.
For savory dishes, sweeter meyer lemons would be my first choice – but of course use what you have with one hand. The juicier, sweeter meyer lemon variety balances out the savory flavors.
If you’re using a tart lemon, adding a drizzle of honey or a pinch of sugar to the ingredients will help bring some balance. Optional as always, but I do believe home cooking is a two-pronged process of confidence and skill, plus an understanding of the game of flavors.
Learn to adjust with a little extra salt, dash of sour or sweet to find that balance. This comes with exercise, but since we need to eat regularly, we have plenty of opportunity to do so.
Pan chicken with green olives and lemon
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
2 tsp flour
Salt and ground pepper
4 chicken thighs (about 750 g), with skin
1 tbsp olive oil
½ lemon, cut into 4 thin slices, squeeze the rest
Small glass (about 100 ml) dry white wine
1 tsp whole grain mustard
½ tsp allspice or five-spice (optional)
½ tsp honey (optional – see note on lemon varieties)
1 bay leaf
12-16 large green olives
Splash of cream, 2-3 tbsp
Preheat the oven to 200C (fan 180C).
On a plate, mix the flour with a good pinch of salt and grind pepper. Dust the chicken pieces thoroughly with the seasoned flour.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the chicken thighs, skin side down (if you can). Cook for 3-4 minutes until lightly colored, then use tongs to flip and cook the other side for the same time.
Combine the lemon juice, wine, mustard, spices and honey (if using) in a pitcher. Pour this around the chicken (not over it) and nestle the bay leaf and olives in the openings. Place a lemon wedge on each piece of chicken.
Pour a dash of cream into the pan and place in the hot oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and skin is golden brown.
If you’re also making the lemon potatoes, pop the chicken in the oven so they’re done at the same time. Or serve with a grain like quinoa or rice and a green salad.
Nicola Galloway is an award-winning food writer, cookbook author and culinary educator.