Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chicken that Fancies Itself Spanish with Lemons, Onions, and Olives

There's nothing I like seeing more in a recipe than the words "simmer," "roast," "bake," and the like. Those words usually mean that I get to grab a glass of wine, kick back, and let the dish do it's thing on the stove or in the oven, turning itself into a delicious concoction all on it's own without much prodding from me. That's why this time of year is especially exciting for me--I get to dust off the old Dutch oven, and make stews galore, along with soups, roasts, and all the other comfort foods that make for the coziest nights at home.

This recipe is one I first came across during the summer and I've had it in the back of my mind to make ever since. Last weekend, with it's sudden spurt of fall weather, provided me the perfect opportunity. It's got all the makings of a fantastic baked chicken, with some Spanish touches that I love, including olives, pimenton, tomatoes, and lemon. And I loved the concept of browning the chicken pieces after coating them with a mixture of flour, pecorino, and pimenton. Genius. The best part of the whole thing, though, is the absolute ease of the recipe, complete with a baking time of 30 minutes. xo

Chicken that Fancies Itself Spanish
Adapted from
1 whole chicken, about 4 pounds, cut into parts
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup grated pecorino
3 teaspoons smoked paprika (or pimenton)
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper  
3 medium lemons  
2 large yellow onions, sliced  
1 large fennel bulb, halved and sliced  
12 whole garlic cloves, peeled and sliced into half  
3/4 cups pitted green olives  
1 pinch ground cinnamon  
1 cup whole peeled tomatoes, crushed  
1 cup white wine

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine 1/2 cup of the flour, pecorino and 1 teaspoon of the smoked paprika in a large bowl. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot (a big Dutch oven, perhaps?) over medium-high heat. Dry the chicken parts thoroughly with paper towels and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper on all sides. Dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour and then place in your pot in batches. Allow the chicken to thoroughly brown, about 5 minutes per side. Don't crowd the pan! Remove the chicken to a plate and repeat until all of your chicken pieces are golden and crispy-looking.

Quarter the lemons, but zest one of them first; reserve the zest. (If your lemons have a thick pith, you'll want to zest all 3 and then juice them, discarding the pith; this will help you avoid a bitter sauce.) Add the onion, quartered lemons (or zest of 2 lemons and the juice of all 3), fennel, garlic, green olives, the remaining 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika, and cinnamon to the pot; cook until softened, golden, and overall mushy-looking, about 10 minutes. Taste for salt. Sprinkle the mixture with the remaining tablespoon of flour and stir over the heat for two minutes. Add the tomatoes and the wine and bring to a boil -- let bubble away for a minute or two. Add the lemon zest.

Place the chicken pieces back into the pot, skin side up, along with any drippings from the plate. Poke the onion/fennel/garlic/olive mixture so it surrounds the chicken on all sides. Place in the oven, uncovered, and bake for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve warm.  


  1. oh i love those words too.
    drinking wine whilst cooking is the best!
    I'm always looking for new ways to have chicken.
    thanks for the recipe!

  2. I don't have a dutch oven, do you think if I transferred everything to a large casserole dish before putting it into the oven, there would be any difference?