Last weekend my girlfriend Kate came in from Connecticut to get her city fix. Since I knew we’d be out and about soaking up the busy streets of NYC, I planned to make us a casual dinner in on Saturday evening. When you live here, sometimes the best part of city living is closing the door on it for a bit.
Bone-in chicken breasts take the leading role in this quick, healthy, and super flavorful main course. Since white meat chicken has very little fat, it dries out easily (cue in the straw-like meat you find when you’ve left this lean poultry exposed to heat even a minute too long), and benefits enormously from having the breast bone left intact. We all know that meat on the bone is more flavorful and tender than when it is taken off, so I cook them with bone 9 times out of ten.
Here I’ve added serious flavor with briny olives, sweet onions, smoky spices, and a fresh herb salad. You’ll notice that the lemon rind is left on, and this is purposeful. The skin hosts the most highly concentrated flavor of the lemon, and when sliced thinly and cooked like this, it melds with the lemon’s flesh in a most appealing way. The clean flavor of the mint and juice from the pomegranate wake up the roasted chicken and vegetables and is such a great addition. To top it off, it’s kind of gorgeous.
Serve this on top of fluffy quinoa or couscous to soak up the flavorful pan juices.
Done and done.
Lemon Chicken Pot with Green Olives, Smoked Paprika, and Pomegranate
2 large bone-in chicken breasts
1/3 cup all-purpose flour seasoned with 1 T each salt and fresh pepper
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large Vidalia onion, peeled, and sliced ¼ inch thick
1 whole lemon, cut into paper-thin slices
1 medium fennel bulb, sliced ¼ inch thick
8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/3 cup green olives, cut in half lengthwise
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup dry white wine
1 small bunch fresh mint, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Liberally season chicken pieces with salt and freshly cracked pepper on all sides, then dredge in the flour. Heat oil in a large, heavy, oven safe pot over medium-high heat until very hot. Place both chicken breasts skin side down into oil and cook for 6-8 minutes until skin is crisp and brown, swirling fat around the pot as the chicken cooks. Turn chicken and cook for two minutes on second side and remove to a place.
Add the onion, fennel, olives, smoked paprika, lemon slices, and cinnamon to the pot and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and place chicken breasts back into the pot. Nestle the chicken snugly in the bed of vegetables, but leave most of the top chicken skin exposed. Place pot in oven and cook for 25 minutes.
When finished, spoon some of the vegetable/olive/onion mixture onto each plate, top with the chicken breasts, and finished with the chopped mint and pomegranate seeds.
**My Two Cents: If you prefer dark meat, it’s an easy swap. The chicken may need a few more minutes to cook through, but it’s comparable with this method.
** If you can’t find pomegranates near you, simply omit them, or add dried cherries into the pot for the last 5 minutes of cooking
** Cilantro is one herb that would be great in place of the mint