Chicken that Fancies Itself Spanish with Lemons, Onions & Olives

By • February 9, 2011 • 92 Comments

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Author Notes: This recipe was inspired by a GOOP newsletter. So shoot me; it's good! The original called for lemons sliced paper thin and eaten whole - I find that eating lemon rind gets old quickly, but the quarters give it just as much flavor. - MeghanVKMeghanVK

Food52 Review: It was the attention to detail in MeghanVK's cleverly adapted recipe that won us over: the blend of pecorino, flour and smoked paprika used to coat the chicken that renders it shaggy and crisp when browned, the inclusion of both lemon zest and quartered lemons, a dash of cinnamon to lend toasty warmth. And lots of other Spanish flavors are there to join the party: garlic, onion, paprika, fennel, green olives, tomato, white wine. We found that the tenor of the smoky, tangy sauce depended on the quality of the lemons; if your lemons have a thick pith, you'll want to just zest them and squeeze in their juice to avoid a bitter sauce. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 4-6

  • 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
  • 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
  • 3/4 cup pitted green olives
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Garnish with cilantro. Serve warm. Delicious!
Jump to Comments (92)

Comments (92) Questions (4)

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Stringio

2 months ago Christina Ebbers

I am not usually impressed by chicken dishes nor have I ever successfully cooked juicy chicken (novice cook), so this was a big win for me! But my favorite part honestly was the delicious onion and fennel strips. YUM. I hope it reheats decently.

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2 months ago Emily pk

Made this last night, stayed true to the recipe. It was fine. Expected more depth of flavor. The fennel was incredible, lemony and tangy and rich. Everything else, fine.

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7 months ago KateGS

I made this tonight and while I liked how moist the chicken was, the sauce was way too much. Too acid/tangy/tart. I had to add at least 3 TBS of sugar and even that wasn't enough. I am bummed, I was really looking forward to this.

Imag0057

9 months ago Swiss Meringue

Yum! I had to make a few substitutions based on what I had in the house and it was still great. I used 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar and 1/2 cup water in place of the white wine (only had red on hand), and did not have cinnamon (just ran out!) or cilantro. The dish still came out very flavorful and delicious. The chicken is extremely moist and tender (I used pasture raised). Next time I won't make so much of the flour mixture, I had a ton left over after coating my chicken.

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9 months ago Mindy

I made it for the first time today and it turned out great! This is a very flavorful recipe and definitely one of those recipes that I'll turn to when needing an amazing one-pot recipe for friends or family. I did cut back on the lemon juice and lemon zest so I ended up using the juice of 2 lemons and the zest of 1 1/2 lemons. We had it over a bed of sliced red and purple potatoes and the vibrant colors with the cilantro made it for a pretty, delicious meal. Thanks!

Stringio

11 months ago Jack Erikssofication

It was OK, I made it for my yoga class, I even have the same yellow pot, but every one was like, "this is not the time for warm food"--i was a little late for class but thought if I brought a warm pot of Chicken that Fancies Itself Spanish with Lemons, Onions & Olives, it would make up for my lateness. you see, I am often late to yoga class because its on the east side and I am on the west side and there is no good bus near me. Anyway, I don't think i will be going back to that yoga class; the instructor was rude and all of the other students were kind of ungrateful-- not just in regards to Chicken that Fancies Itself Spanish with Lemons, Onions & Olives, but one day i accidentally bought too much frozen yogurt at 16 handles (latterly just got the joke in the name #hilarious #duckie) and nobody wanted to finish it off, i was late again that day and ended up just having to throw the yogurt away.

Stringio

11 months ago Jack Erikssofication

pft.

Stringio

12 months ago Heidi Behr

So delicious! Made this last night for my poker group. Used vegetable stock (with 2 splashes of apple cider vinegar) in place of the wine; also used celery in place of fennel, as our grocery was out fennel. I meant to use fennel seeds in the dish but forgot! Still, a huge winner. Everyone was quite delighted.

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12 months ago MeghanVK

Glad it worked for you! I'll have to try it with celery - sounds great.

Stringio

12 months ago Heidi Behr

Meant to also report that I used a gluten-free flour (by Namaste) - worked just fine! So all you GF folk out there, have at it!

Katie

about 1 year ago ktorenstein

I made this last night for company for the first time (risky, I know). It was fantastic! After reading the comments about potential bitterness I played it safe and just used the zest and juice from the lemons instead of quartering them -- it was still really yummy!

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11 months ago LauriL

I too, was a risk taker (not really when you use a proven winner!!)
Made this for guests last night and was received with great reviews! I actually agreed with the guests that it was a wonderful dish. I, like many other amateur cooks out there, find it hard to just accept a compliment. I always have to find something awry with my table offerings....this is the first time that I jumped on the "it's fantastic" band wagon!

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over 1 year ago Carol Pirie

This is lovely. Instead of using quartered lemons, I used two lemons, sliced very thinly, plus the zest of one lemon, plus the juice of two lemons. When I added the flour to the vegetables, I was amazed at how the silky sauce suddenly manifested... Leftovers are sublime, even at room temperature: it thinks it's ratatouille.

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almost 2 years ago Mikebny1

Make sure that if you use quartered lemons that there really is almost no pith. I made it once and one of the lemons had what I would consider medium pith and it ruined the dish. Second time around the dish was really great.

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almost 2 years ago Laurelb

Made this last night. It was good but not great. I would use boneless chicken and add something to give it more punch. The first few bites were great but it lost its wow factor after that. Used olives with pimentos and would do that again.

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about 2 years ago Leslieswanson

This is the most delicious chicken dish. The flavor is amazing. You must try it. I used all thighs to save a little at the grocer and it turned out perfect.

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about 2 years ago Amandadp

I'm new to Food52 and this is the first recipe I've tried - I think it's fantastic! Sometimes I'm not a fan of cooked fennel but I really like it in this. Will definitely make this again!

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over 2 years ago redmaryt

Made this a few months ago, it is the best chicken I've ever made and probably the best I've ever tasted! My friend and I couldn't believe how delicious it was. I cut back on the lemon zest just a bit.

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over 2 years ago cookinbklyn

This was DEELICIOUS, but I'm calling my version " chicken that fancies itself spanish/provencal" . I wanted to minimize the sour flavor and didn't have a few items on hand. Here are my mods: 1. Zest and juice only of 2 medium Meyer lemons 2. Substituted chicken broth and vermouth in equal parts for the cup of white wine 3. Substituted celery instead of fennel. 4. Used thighs and legs only 5. Used Parmesan instead of Pecorino for coating 6. Chopped cilantro and parsley in equal parts 7. Used Picholine olives (with pits) 8. Added a bayleaf to the vegetables. Served this over rice pilaf and green peas on the side. If you don't have access to Meyer lemons, I might add a carrot or perhaps an orange to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes, lemons and white wine.

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over 2 years ago qtprof

Made this with preserved lemons--perfect!

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over 2 years ago susan206

I liked this, but didn't love it - too much acid. I wouldn't make it again. One thing I learned from a checken recipe from the wall street journal, is that I no longer brown the chicken. It is messy and takes too much time to clean up the stove afterwards. For this recipe I just stuck the chicken on top of the onions etc and it browned as it cooked. Way easier and the chicken itself was delicious.

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over 2 years ago Neal Erickson

I cooked this recipe last week with mixed results. I found the technique very good: great coating on the chicken (I used thighs) and finishing it over the vegetables uncovered in the oven produced a pleasant, creamy texture for the vegetables while the chicken skin and coating remained crisp.

However, I found the flavors wildly out of balance. Even though I used small lemons -- zested one and quartered all three -- the flavor was way too strong and overwhelmed the dish. (This became even more pronounced with reheating.) Also, I love smoked pimenton, but could not detect it much by the time the dish was done. Perhaps more could be added or added later in the cooking. One must also be careful to not add too much cinnamon -- a very small pinch will do. I also feel that the fennel really didn't add much and seemed to lose its pungency after cooking as well.

I would cook this again, but cut way back on the lemon. I might also try using potato slices with all those lovely onions instead of the fennel. I think they would have time to cook perfectly in the oven and provide a more balanced base for all the pungent flavors provided by the lemon, olives, wine and tomatoes.

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over 2 years ago The Expatresse

Disaster! Wary of bitterness, I zested and juiced two lemons and only added one, in wedges, to the stew. Bitter, bitter, bitter. This is what happens when you make something new for dinner guests. The chicken was quite nice . . . I served it with a herby, chili couscous. But the vegetables were barely edible. I'll try again, but without adding any sliced lemons. Who knew?

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over 2 years ago bella s.f.

Meyer lemons are marvelous in this recipe!

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over 2 years ago chefpatty

Would meyer lemons be good in this recipe?

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almost 3 years ago culture_connoisseur

Delicious! I made this tonight and the house smelled amazing! I added mushrooms just because :)

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almost 3 years ago MeghanVK

I totally approve of the mushrooms :)

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almost 3 years ago leah_shelton_pucciarelli

Can you reccomend the type of olives preferred here? Thx!

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almost 3 years ago MeghanVK

I just use standard green olives - but I think any kind of green olive would be fine (picholines, cerignolas). Kalamata olives might work but the flavor would definitely be different.

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almost 3 years ago Judy at Two Broads Abroad

Just made this and I have to say it was extremely easy and all my guests loved it. Thanks so much.

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almost 3 years ago ubs2007

WOW!!!!! Made this for a dinner party and everyone was in awe! Incredible combination of flavors! Thank you so much for sharing!!!!

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almost 3 years ago MeghanVK

Aw yay! This many exclamation points makes me so happy :)

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almost 3 years ago J e t

Made this last week, and it was absolutely spectacular. I made it pretty much as written, and served with rice. Delicious!

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almost 3 years ago bella s.f.

WOW!!! We made this two days ago and it was absolutely delicious. I used castellano olives, those odd-colored, large green olives. They worked really well. I left the pits in. I liked the rustic feel that it gave to the dish. We had the leftovers last night. I found that with each bite I kept saying, "OMG, this is amazing! OMG, this is delicious!" I couldn't stop saying that. I could eat it again right now. I won't be able to wait too long to make this again. By the way, I served this over very velvety mashed Yukon Gold potatoes. It was a perfect fit! Creamy, rich, flavorful bliss. Meghan VK, thank you so much for creating this! By the way, it went beautifully with a bottle of Spanish Verdelho. It just seemed right to stay in the neighborhood.

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almost 3 years ago MeghanVK

I'm so happy it worked for you! I like it with a rioja but I will have to look for a verdelho next time.

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almost 3 years ago Bevi

I made this tonight and it was delicious. Instead of cutting up a whole chicken, I used organic skinless chicken breasts. Next time I will make sure to use a good Spanish olive or a Castelveltrano. Have you tried this dish with Seville oranges or a combination of lemons and Sevilles? i am curious about how that would taste. I love any dish that requires only one pot, and this was a perfect one pot wonder. Because my lemons had lots of pith, I only left in 3/4 of one lemon for the baking, and took them out for the second day of reheating. Thanks for giving me another option for chicken!

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almost 3 years ago MeghanVK

I think just Seville oranges would be a bit too bitter... but a combination with lemons could be really interesting. I'll have to try it sometime. My friend used Meyer lemons and said it turned out great, so I want to try that, too. In any case, glad the recipe worked for you!

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about 3 years ago shoesthatilike

Made this for a dinner party on Friday night. HUGE hit. It was very easy to prep and only required one pot. I will make it again!

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about 3 years ago WileyP

This sounds just wonderful, MeghanVK, and hav added the appropriate ingredients to my shopping list for next week. Thanks so much!

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about 3 years ago DanU

Yum! Made this the other night. Had the leftovers last night over rice with this radish & cucumber salad - http://www.food52.com/recipes...

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about 3 years ago MeghanVK

Glad you liked it!

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over 3 years ago J-Dizzle

Congrats! This recipe sounds amazing.....looking forward to making it sooner than later! yummmmm......:o)

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over 3 years ago eatatvino

One of my favorite recipes on Food52... absolutely love it :-)

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over 3 years ago Diane Sirna Miller

Megan,
This recipe sounds fabulous!!! ..and I'll be trying it this week.
Thanks in advance.
diane

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over 3 years ago Chef Jamie B.

One more note! I used meyer lemon pulp and juice instead of the quartered lemons, and I thought the lemon-orange flavor from the meyer lemons was great! :)

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over 3 years ago MeghanVK

I'll have to try it with the Meyer lemons myself - great idea! Glad you liked it.

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over 3 years ago Chef Jamie B.

This was excellent, even enjoyed as leftovers! I loved the combo of flavors and the chicken was very tender. I served it with rice, which was a delicious pairing! I will definitely be making this again!

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over 3 years ago bas26

Made this last night...it really is amazing. The flavors are so wonderful and not too intense.
I'll be making this a regular in my repertoire. Can I make this without tomatoes? I am one of those people who get arthritis in my fingers when I eat tomatoes, and of course, I love them.

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over 3 years ago MeghanVK

So glad you like it! You can definitely make it without the tomatoes - the original recipe that I adapted actually didn't call for them :) I would probably up the wine or add a bit of broth to make up for the lost moisture.

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over 3 years ago Rzbbzr

I really enjoyed this recipe though next time I may use one less lemon (admittedly my lemons were pretty huge...might have worked better with smaller lemons.) Not to say that the lemoniness was bad...I just like a subtler flavors, I think. Also, I found that the reheat on day 2 compounded the intensity of the lemon even further. But overall, I was really happy with how it turned out! The chicken was perfectly cooked, skin crispy...and the sauce...lovely rich creamy texture.

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over 3 years ago eatatvino

Made it last weekend and it was absolutely delicious! I foresee this recipe appearing frequently on my weekend menus in future :-)

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over 3 years ago Fresca

I've made this twice this week. I never make anything twice ever. That is how much we love this. Thanks! :)

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over 3 years ago MeghanVK

So happy to hear it!

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over 3 years ago GSmodden

Ugh. I just came home and realized I forgot to get the wine for this recipe. How critical is it to this dish? Can I still do this without it, replacing it with stock or water? Or should I make a second run and get the wine?

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over 3 years ago MeghanVK

I hate when that happens! Just use stock - it will still be good. You could also add a splash of dry sherry or vermouth if you have them lying around.

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over 3 years ago GSmodden

Thanks! I made it with stock. It was really, really delicious. Thanks for this recipe. I'll definitely be making this again.

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over 3 years ago MeghanVK

So glad to hear it was a success!

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over 3 years ago TOfoodie

I made this last night and it was wonderful. What other vegetables would you recommend we add if we wanted to diversify it a bit? Thanks!

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over 3 years ago MeghanVK

Great question - I think it would be delicious with leeks and/or celery, or thinly sliced carrot. I'm also thinking about incorporating squash to get through this never-ending winter - either cubes of it with all of the vegetables, or cooked spaghetti squash right before it goes into the oven.

You can also try using red wine instead of white in the sauce - very different flavor!

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over 3 years ago tasty

Made this last night for dinner - only for 2, so used chicken thighs instead of whole - absolutely delicious.

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over 3 years ago MeghanVK

Glad you liked it!

Junechamp

almost 4 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I think I'm making this for Sunday dinner. I love the coating for the chicken. But I won't ruin it with a cilantro garnish...

Congrats on the win. ;)

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almost 4 years ago MeghanVK

I hope you like it! You could always save some of the fennel fronds and use that to gussy it up at the end - I love cilantro but I do get that it tastes a little like soap :)

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almost 4 years ago The force is strong with this one

Just made it and ate it and now I'm suffering an incredible case of food coma. Thanks! It was awesome!

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almost 4 years ago MeghanVK

So glad you enjoyed it!

Mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

congratulations, Meghan!

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almost 4 years ago MeghanVK

Thank you! I feel a little nerdy for being so excited. Hope you enjoy.

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almost 4 years ago Bevi

Congrats! I'm looking forward to making this.

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almost 4 years ago MeghanVK

I hope you do - enjoy!

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almost 4 years ago gingerroot

Congratulations! Looking forward to trying this.

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almost 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations!

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almost 4 years ago FrancesRenHuang

Saved in my recipes. Can't wait to make it.

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almost 4 years ago Wicko

Quick question: do I throw in the whole garlic cloves, crush 'em or chop 'em?

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almost 4 years ago MeghanVK

Just peel and leave 'em whole - they'll get very soft during the cooking process. Hope that helps!

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almost 4 years ago roseinparis

Congratulations!

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almost 4 years ago OBN

Im trying this tonight!!!! Awesome!!!!!!

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almost 4 years ago joshenk

Yummers!!!

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almost 4 years ago MikeeLikesIt

Trying it tonight--can't wait!!

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almost 4 years ago Melkaminski

This makes my mouth water :)

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almost 4 years ago healthierkitchen

MeghanVK - I'm surprised I didn't see this when you submitted it, as this sounds seriously amazing and right up my alley. Your other recipes sound great too! Best of luck!

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almost 4 years ago Midge

Sounds amazing and what a great name! Congrats.

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almost 4 years ago jmorrissey

congrats to one of my favorite chefs! can't wait to make it.

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almost 4 years ago Annie.Bart

Sounds awesome, but I'm going to tweak it and make it with seitan instead of chicken. Excited to try it!

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almost 4 years ago MeghanVK

Thanks! Please let me know how that works - my mom's a vegetarian, so I'd love to be able to share the recipe with her if it works out well for you.

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almost 4 years ago franbren

this looks delish

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almost 4 years ago cheese1227

Lovely looking chicken, even if it's got a skewed view of of its own origin! Congrats.

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almost 4 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Congrats on being a finalist! This looks super tasty!

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almost 4 years ago Waverly

Your recipe sounds terrific. Congratulations on being a finalist!

Mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Congrats MeghanVK! This sounds really great.

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almost 4 years ago gingerroot

Congrats on being a finalist! I bet this is amazing and can't wait to try it.

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almost 4 years ago MeghanVK

Thank you! Let me know how it goes!

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almost 4 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Congrats! This sounds really delicious.