Baked chicken with lemons and olives has become my newest go-to dish for dinner parties. I can put the entire dish together in about 10 minutes and then pop it in the oven when my guests arrive and let it cook for about an hour while we enjoy cocktails and chit-chat.
I’ve prepared this dish on several occasions and each time I learn a little something new. The chicken should marinate for a least an hour in the refrigerator, but if you leave it up to 24 hours, the dish has a lot more flavor. I’ve also learned that if you cook it in advance and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator and then gently reheat it the day of your dinner party, it’s even better. If you love garlic, don’t be shy with it if you want it to sing with the sweetness of baked garlic. Feel free to substitute any fresh or dried herb for the oregano such as fresh rosemary, thyme or even basil.
The cut of the chicken you use is up to you. For a dinner party I prefer boneless, skinless chicken thighs because they make a pretty presentation. But you could also use a whole chicken cut into pieces, or 6 thighs with bones and skin. My friend Lea Ann posted a similar recipe of braised chicken with lemons, potatoes and green olives that I know you would also like at Cooking on the Ranch.
The chicken can be served over rice or a quinoa pilaf, but, again for presentation, I like to use watercress and drizzle the sauce over the chicken. I’ve paired the dish with wedges of red potatoes, parboiled, then sautéed in a flavorful olive oil. A few grape tomato halves bring a bit of color to the plate. Our guests have all raved over this one. I’m sure your guests and family will too.
Chicken with Lemons and Olives
Adapted slightly from The Lazy Gourmet – serves 4
Grated zest of one lemon
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
¼ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons of olive oil*
¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ to ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon capers, with some of the juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 2 teaspoons dried oregano (see cook’s notes other herbs)
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, excess fat removed
½ to ¾ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in quarters
In a large plastic zip lock bag, combine the lemon zest and juice, wine, olive oil, crushed red pepper, salt, black pepper, capers, oregano, and garlic. Add the chicken and gently shake to coat. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
When ready to bake, remove the bag of chicken from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the chicken in a baking dish in a single layer and pour the lemon juice mixture over it. Scatter olives over and round the chicken pieces. Bake, uncovered, in a preheated oven for about 45 minutes, until the chicken is browned on top and cooked through to 160 – 165 degrees.
Serve chicken over watercress and drizzle with the sauce. Serve with crispy baked small red or white potatoes that have been tossed in a bit of olive oil, seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and (optionally) tossed with chopped fresh rosemary & baked along with the chicken in a 400 degree F oven for about an hour. Garnish the plate with a few grape tomato halves if you wish.
- If the sauce is to thin, thicken with a cornstarch and water slurry.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before cooking to allow the chicken to come to room temperature.
- If using chicken with bones, it may take a bit longer to cook. Check at 45 minutes and if not cooked through, continue to cook until it reaches 160 to 165 degrees.
This recipe will be linked to: Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, and On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable. Please join me there for fabulous recipes and menu ideas.
* When this post was originally published, I left the olive oil off of the list of ingredients. Thanks to a friend who pointed this out to me, I have since corrected my error. My sincere apologies to all of you.