Baked Lemon Chicken
This meal was absolutely wonderful in every way - very little prep, almost no chopping or slicing, only a couple dirty prep dishes to wash, a small ingredient list, and very, very tasty. It is one of those incredibly homey meals that would also be special enough for company, because it is so fresh. You do not have to use chicken thighs - that’s just what we found in the sale bin that day. Any bone-in chicken will do – breasts, leg quarters, even a whole bird (they’ll cut it up for you at the butcher’s counter). Just adjust the cooking time based on the type of meat being used. The herbs don’t have to be chopped, just give them a good rinse if you picked them from your garden, and toss them in. We used oregano and sage, as that’s what we had, but I would have LOVED to use thyme. You can make just the chicken if you want, but I decided to do mashed potatoes, because I knew the chicken would give me a good sauce, plus I could add in the soft cooked garlic in from the dish for extra wonderful flavor! The only thing you need to be careful about is to not burn the skin during the broiling part – I was basing this off a recipe that called for broiling for 5 minutes, but mine started to burn after 2, so I’d watch it closely.
Here’s what you need:
- 8 Chicken Thighs (with bone and skin)
- Olive oil (just enough for rubbing on chicken and pan)
- ½ of a Lemon (use other half for glaze)
- ½ of a large Onion, sliced into rounds roughly a ¼ inch thick
- Garlic, about ½ of a head
- 5-6 Sprigs of Fresh Herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, chives, basil, or a combo)
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 T Honey
- 1 T Mustard (whole grain or Dijon)
- ¼ cup Olive oil
- Lemon (the other half from the chicken)
- 5-6 Medium sized Russet Potatoes (or however many you want)
- 1 Tb butter
- Milk or cream
- Cooked garlic from the chicken (optional)
- ¼ cup or so of freshly shredded parmesan cheese (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Prep pan: Pour a tb or so of olive oil in a glass or ceramic 9 x 13 inch baking dish and rub it all over with your fingers. Place onion slices in a single layer on the bottom of dish. Evenly distribute fresh herb sprigs on onions. Peel garlic cloves and smash with your hand and the flat side of a butcher knife until they are fairly squished, and add those too.
- Prep chicken: rinse and pat chicken dry. Rub all over with olive oil, and season all over generously with salt and a bit of freshly ground pepper. Place skin side down on onion/herb bed in dish.
- Cut lemon in half, remove seeds. Squeeze as much lemon juice as you can all over chicken. Then cut the squeezed lemon half into 3-4 pieces and tuck in around chicken.
- Prep glaze: Whisk together honey, mustard, and the juice from the other half of lemon in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil in a slow steady stream until emulsified. Set aside. Cut this squeezed lemon half like the other and tuck that around chicken too.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, then turn skin side up. Bake 15 more minutes. Brush chicken with glaze, and bake until done to your liking, maybe 10 more minutes, brushing with glaze every 5 minutes or so until it is used up. You’ll notice the skin starting to brown, a knife will slip in through the chicken easily, and the meat moves easily around the bones.
- Turn oven on to boil, and finish the chicken under the broil. Don’t move the pan to a different rack, just turn on the broiler, and let it go for maybe 2 minutes. Watch it to make sure it doesn’t burn, as the honey in the glaze will burn easily!
At this point, you can just be done, but if you want to round out the whole meal, follow the next steps:
- Make the sauce: Remove chicken and onions from the glass dish, place on a platter and keep warm (I usually put in another glass dish and put in the warm, turned-off oven). Throw away the herb sprigs and the lemon pieces. Mash the cooked garlic in with your potatoes (see below).
Pour all the wonderful juices in the dish into a small saucepan and simmer until reduced a bit, maybe 5 minutes or so. Remove a little sauce into a small bowl; add a teaspoonful of cornstarch and stir/smoosh well with spoon until smooth. Add this back to the saucepan and boil for a few minutes until sauce thickens, whisking constantly. Season to taste with a little salt and pepper. Serve this with the chicken, potatoes, and any veggie you might be serving (green beans or broccoli would be tasty).
- Potatoes: While the chicken is cooking, peel potatoes, cut into 3-4 pieces, and boil them in well-salted water until they are soft. I put them on the heat when I put the chicken in the oven, and they were done and ready to mash close to when the chicken was done. Mash a little with a potato masher, then add butter, a little milk or cream (maybe ¼ cup to start), cheese if using, and mashed up cooked garlic from the chicken if using. Mash up with your masher until, well, mashed. You can also drizzle with pan drippings from chicken for extra flavor!