Crusty chicken studded with slices of bright yellow Meyer lemons and browned potatoes makes a very pretty dish and is certainly company worthy.
Meyer lemons are a cross between regular lemons and mandarin oranges. They have a sweeter, more floral taste and their skins are thinner, making them harder to transport and handle. They grow well in warm climates where it doesn’t freeze, such as southern California and south Florida.
Meyer lemons sometimes can be difficult to find, but the have have become increasingly popular so you might be surprised where you can and can't find them. It’s funny how I can almost always count on our supermarket in the mountains to have a bag of Meyer lemons. And here we are 750 miles south in southwest Florida where Meyer lemons grow locally and one day I saw them and the next day they were gone. That’s what happened to me when I decided to buy the lemons for this dish. Publix doesn’t carry them, however a nearby farm stand had lots of locally grown Meyer lemons (try saying Fort Myers Meyer lemons quickly 3 times in a row) the other day when we were there to pick up a box of local strawberries. The very next day when we went to buy the lemons, poof, they were all gone. So you never know. But don’t fear if you can’t find Meyer lemons though. Just add a pinch of sugar to regular lemon juice and you’ll replicate the flavors of a Meyer lemon.
This is the kind of dish I save for weekends when I’m not in a hurry to get dinner on the table. It’s not a quick dish to prepare and requires some active prep time. However, the flavors are well worth the extra minutes it takes.
Meyer Lemon Chicken
Adapted from Cooking Light – serves 6 – 1 breast or 1 thigh per person
2 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts, cut in halves crosswise
2 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound small red potatoes, quartered
1 Meyer lemon, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then remove seeds
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 cup low salt or unsalted chicken stock, divided
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 ounces pitted olives, we used a combination of green and kalamata
2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
Pinch of sugar, not necessary unless you are using a regular lemon
2 tablespoons butter
Fresh parsley leaves
Preheat oven to 400°.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large ovenproof skillet, swirl the oil around, then turn the heat to medium-high. Sprinkle chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides. Add chicken to pan, skin side down; cook 6 minutes or until skin is golden brown and crisp. Turn chicken over. Place pan in oven. Bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of chicken registers 165°.
Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Discard pan drippings (do not wipe pan clean). Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add potatoes to pan; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook potatoes on each side until done all the way through and browned. Remove potatoes from pan. Add lemon slices to pan; cook 1 minute on each side or until browned. Remove lemons from pan. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots and garlic; sauté 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine and chopped fresh thyme; cook 1 minute or until liquid almost evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.
Return potatoes and lemon slices to pan. Add 2/3 cup chicken stock, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper & cook until potatoes are completely tender. Combine remaining 1/3 cup stock with cornstarch and stir with a whisk to combine. Add cornstarch mixture and olives to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add a pinch of sugar to the lemon juice if you used a regular lemon, and then add the lemon juice and butter, stirring until butter melts. Return chicken to pan, turning to coat. Sprinkle with parsley and serve right away with the pan sauce.
Cook’s notes: Meyer lemons aren’t as tart as a regular lemon. If you use a regular lemon, add a nice pinch of sugar to the lemon juice to help replicate the milder Meyer lemon juice. Use small potatoes, or if all you can find is large potatoes, cut them into pieces the size of a quartered small potato. No matter what their size, be sure to cook the potatoes until they are cooked all the way through when you are browning them in the first phase because they will cook only a little bit more at the end of the recipe. Our chicken breasts were huge. If yours are very small, you might want to use three breasts. If your chicken thighs are very small, I would suggest using 4 – 6. Our thighs were fairly small compared to the breasts and one thigh made a rather small serving.