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&MA&M

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

27 days 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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28 days 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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6 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

7 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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7 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

9 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

9 months ago Jack Erikssofication

pft.

Stringio

11 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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11 months ago MeghanVK

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

Stringio

11 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

12 months 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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9 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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over 1 year 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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almost 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.

May_2011

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?