Chicken that Fancies Itself Spanish with Lemons, Onions & Olives

By MeghanVK
February 9, 2011

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!

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Reviews (97) Questions (4)


bas26 March 3, 2016
I sliced the lemons instead of quartering them and found no bitterness at all. This is still one of my favorites.
Daniel A. March 2, 2016
Followed directions to a "T". Something isn't right, way too bitter. I think the lemons did it.
mstv March 1, 2015
This recipe did not work for me at all. I used thin skinned Meyer lemons and the sauce was overwhelmingly bitter. Even ignoring the bitter component of the flavor - I did not enjoy this one otherwise.
Jacob H. February 20, 2015
Liked it a lot, though it was too lemony for my taste ....
krystine January 8, 2015
I made this last night for dinner, it was ok. the chicken was perfect but the veggie/sauce didn't wow me. I would add more paprika next time and less lemon juice. <br />