Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken Recipe

This dish makes for a really simple, tasty mid-week dinner.

Chicken and lemon really are a match made in heaven and this is a really lemony chicken dish.  I used chicken legs because I like the rich flavour of the dark meat but also because chicken legs are so much cheaper than breasts which means you can buy great quality, free range chicken without breaking the bank.  If you prefer you can use chicken thighs – you can even use boneless chicken thighs if you don’t like to faff about with bones but the bones do add flavour.  This marinade also works well with chicken breasts or a whole roast chicken.

I originally intended to add garlic to the marinade but found that I had run out and not noticed – I don’t think that has ever happened before – no garlic in the house? Unheard of!  Even more shocking (well to me anyway) is the fact that I actually preferred this dish without the garlic – it lets the lemon really shine through.

I served the chicken with cavolo nero (because I think I am developing an addiction to it) and potato wedges (well the oven was already hot) but it would work just as well with noodles and pak choi.

However you make it, tweek it and adjust it – enjoy.

Ingredients

4 Chicken Legs (or 8 thighs)

2 Unwaxed Lemons

4 or 5 large Sprigs of Thyme

2 large sprigs of Rosemary

1 tbsp Honey

1 tbsp Olive Oil

Method

Season the chicken well with salt and pepper and put it into a large, sealable plastic bag.

Finely grate the zest from both the lemons and place in a bowl. Juice the lemons and add the juice to the zest. Strip the thyme leaves from their stems, strip the rosemary and finely chop the leaves; add the herbs to the bowl with the lemon juice. Stir the marinade and pour over the chicken, seal the bag and massage to work the flavours into the meat. Leave to marinate for 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6.

Remove the chicken from the bag and place on a trivet over a roasting tin and drizzle with the olive oil.

Roast for approximately 20 minutes then baste with the rest of the marinade. Return to the oven for a further 20 minutes. Drizzle the chicken legs with the honey and put back in the oven for 5 more minutes or until the skin is crisp and the juices run clear.

Chicken thighs will take less time to cook (approximately 30 minutes in total).

 

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Preserved Lemons

 

Preserved Lemons

I always seem to have a few too many lemons sitting in the fruit bowl.

I like to have lemons around as I use them a lot – a splash of juice brightens up a sauce or gravy, a little zest lifts even the most simple of cakes and, of course, a gin and tonic just isn’t the same without a slice or two of yellow sharpness – but I hate to see them drying out and going to waste because I bought too many.

The most obvious thing would be to buy less lemons but it’s not quite that straight forward – because I like to use the zest I only buy unwaxed lemons and I find that they are often only sold in nets of five or more fruits rather than individually – why is that?  When they are available individually they are twice the price of waxed lemons.

I do all the usual things like freezing slices for a G&T or freezing the juice in an ice cube tray for a little zap when needed but I still sometimes get a little overloaded.  This week I asked the bun scuffle Facebook community for ideas and, as always, they came up trumps.

Thanks to Ali Robinson for suggesting that I preserve them – I love preserved lemons but have never actually made them before, so I stole this recipe from the BBC Good Food site and gave it a go.  The recipe (below) couldn’t be simpler but I’ll have to let you know how they turned out in a month or so.  When they are ready I’ll post some recipes for using them – mmm I can feel something Moroccan brewing…

Ingredients

10 or 12 Unwaxed Lemons (depending on the size of the jar)

250g / 9 oz Sea Salt

6 to 8 Black Peppercorns

3 Star Anise

3 Bay Leaves

Method

You will also need a sterilised preserving jar big enough to hold half the lemons. To sterilise wash thoroughly in hot, soapy water, rinse well and place in a low oven (140°C/Gas Mark ) for around 15 minutes.

Cut a deep cross into five or six of the lemons so that they are nearly quartered but still held together at one end. Pack a teaspoon of salt into each lemon and re-shape.

Push them into the jar as tightly as you can. Spoon the rest of the salt in and around the lemons along with the bay leaves, peppercorns and star anise.

Juice the rest of the lemons and strain the juice into the jar – top up with water to completely cover the lemons. Seal tightly with a lid.

Turn the jar every day to mix up the salt and spices. The lemons will be ready to use in a month to six weeks.

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Lemony Sausage and Fennel Casserole

Lemony Sausage and Fennel Casserole

This recipe is lighter than lots of casseroles but it is still warming and flavourful.  Most sausage casseroles are rich and heavy with tomatoes and beans and, whilst I enjoy those too, this one provides a refreshingly different way of cooking great sausages.

I used pork and leek sausages from my local butcher which worked really well.

Ingredients

6 Good Quality Sausages

2 large Fennel Bulbs

2 Leeks

1 Lemon

1 pint of Vegetable Stock (made from bouillon)

1 tbsp Olive Oi

A handful of freshly chopped parsley

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/ 350  F / Gas Mark 4
Cut the fennel into quarters through the root (if they are very large cut them into six or even eight pieces).  Trim and wash the leeks and cut into large chunks.  Cut the lemon into six wedges.  Toss all the vegetables in the olive oil and place in a shallow casserole dish. 
Push the sausages in amongst the vegetables and place. the dish into the oven for 30 minutes or until the sausages are browned and the vegetables have begun to caramelise.
Pour the stock over the other ingredients and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes.
Season with black pepper, sprinkle over the parsley and serve with new potatoes or crusty bread.

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Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Over the last couple of years cupcakes seem to have become the ubiquitous sweet treat.  When I was a child they were called fairy cakes and you were lucky if they were topped with a bit of icing and a sprinkle of hundreds and thousands.  Now they have become works of art.  Shops have been set up which are dedicated solely to producing miniature bites of flavoured sponge and buttercream and whole shelves of cupcake cookery books abound in book shops the world over.

When I need a bit of cupcake porn I visit my friend Lisa who makes the most beautiful cakes for all occasions including, of course, cupcakes.  If you want to share my guilty habit check out Vanillaboo and be prepared to drool.  Lisa has made dainty birthday cupcakes, elegant wedding cupcakes and fun cakes for children but she refuses to share her recipes with me – they are a closely guarded secret and if you are ever lucky enough to taste one you will understand why.

So when I realised it was National Cupcake Week (who decides these things?) I realised I was on my own.  I had been meaning to try out these meringue topped beauties for a while so this was my opportunity.

The spoonful of lemon curd melts into the mix giving a lovely gooey spot in the middle and the soft meringue adds sweetness and moisture to counteract the sharp lemon flavour.  The meringue is not fully cooked so think twice before feeding them to small children or pregnant women – oh dear – that means more for you.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the cakes

4 oz / 100g Butter (softened)

4 oz / 100g Golden Caster Sugar

4 oz / 100g Self Raising Flour

2 Large Free Range Eggs

1 tsp Lemon Essence

Zest of 1 Lemon

2 oz / 50g Lemon Curd

For the Meringue

2 Large Free Range Egg Whites

4 oz / 100g Golden Caster Sugar

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4

Line a cupcake tin with paper cases (makes 12).

Beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs a little at a time and beat together.  Beat in the lemon essence.  Fold in the flour and grated lemon zest.

Spoon the cake batter into the paper cases and place a teaspoonful of lemon curd on the top of each one.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until risen and springy to the touch.

Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.  Once cool make the meringue.

Whisk the egg whites in a very clean bowl (even a hint of grease will stop them from stiffening) until soft peaks form.  Add the sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form.

You can pipe the meringue onto the top of your cakes for a professional finish or just spoon it on and swirl it with the back of a spoon as I did.

To toast the meringue place the cakes under a pre-heated grill for a minute or two until brown – do not take your eyes off them as they burn in a second.  Alternatively you can use a chefs blow torch if you have one.

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