Pollyanna’s Lemon Chicken

Full disclosure: This is not a family favorite. However, being the glass-half-full kind of girl that I am, I’m convinced that this is one of those dishes that my children will remember fondly–even attempt to recreate–as adults. Currently, it rates groans and cries of “straight-up nasty!” the current teen expression of disgust (in my day it was “bogus!”). I am in the habit of ignoring such commentary, with the understanding that teens will come to their senses once a little maturity sets in–say, by the time they hit 40.

I’m including the recipe because adults love it, and the simplicity of the prep is inversely proportionate to the deliciousness of the finished dish. It’s easy! I typically buy a whole chicken and cut it up myself; it’s cheaper by the pound than parts and I save the necks and backs to freeze for soup stock. If you are squeamish about butchering, by all means buy whatever parts you like best. Parts on the bone will be more moist and flavorful, but boneless cuts are okay, too. Just be sure not to overcook it.

One 3 1/2 pound chicken, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
1 large onion, sliced thin
6-8 large cloves garlic, smashed lightly with the flat of a knife
Juice of one large lemon (about 3-4 tablespoons)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly round black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
1 bay leaf

6 large Yukon Gold potatoes (or other vegetables: see options, below)
2 tablespoons olive oil
A couple pinches of salt and some freshly ground pepper

1 cup frozen petite peas

To cut up the chicken: Using kitchen shears, snip off the chicken’s wing tips and cut along both sides of the spine to remove the back. Put these parts into a plastic freezer bag for use later. Feel for the shoulder joint with your fingers and snip around it to sever the wings from the body. The legs come off easily by snipping the skin that connects them to the breasts. Cut through the knee joint, using your fingers to find the right spot. Cut down the center of the breastbone to separate the two breasts. Cut each breast into three pieces crosswise.

Put all the parts in a large zipper bag or plastic storage container with a tight-fitting lid. Add the sliced onions, bay leaf, garlic cloves, and salt and pepper. Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, and sriracha together and pour over the chicken. Toss with your hands or a spoon to coat. Cover and marinate in the fridge for several hours. You can even prep to this point in the morning or the night before, and cook it all when you get home from work.

Cut the potatoes into one-inch cubes. Toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper, in a large pyrex dish or roasting pan. Add the chicken, with all its marinade, and spread chicken and vegetables into a single layer. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 1 hour. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, add peas.

Options: You can also make this dish with yams or sweet potatoes (I’m particularly fond of the white ones) or even cauliflower, separated into florets. The photo shows the chicken with a combination of russet, yams, and white sweet potatoes.


4 thoughts on “Pollyanna’s Lemon Chicken

  1. I don’t usually like cooking, nor does my family usually like to eat my cooking, but thankfully they eat it to encourage me to continue (and hopefully get better at ) cooking. This recipe looks and sounds delicious I can’t wait to make some for my family. Thanks for the recipe

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