Make Ahead

Chicken that Fancies Itself Spanish with Lemons, Onions & Olives

February  9, 2011
14 Ratings
  • Serves 4-6
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. - MeghanVK —MeghanVK

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 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!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Daniel A. Stimler
    Daniel A. Stimler
  • Jacob Hasle
    Jacob Hasle
  • krystine
  • Christina Ebbers
    Christina Ebbers
  • Swiss Meringue
    Swiss Meringue

97 Reviews

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.
Christina E. September 25, 2014
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.
Emily P. September 24, 2014
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.
KateGS April 22, 2014
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.
Swiss M. March 15, 2014
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.
Mindy March 14, 2014
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!
Jack E. January 13, 2014
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.
Jack E. January 13, 2014
Heidi B. December 8, 2013
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.
MeghanVK December 8, 2013
Glad it worked for you! I'll have to try it with celery - sounds great.
Heidi B. December 9, 2013
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!
taco_cat November 3, 2013
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!
LauriL January 15, 2014
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!
Carol P. June 4, 2013
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.
Mikebny1 February 26, 2013
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.
Laurelb November 30, 2012
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.
Leslieswanson November 10, 2012
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.
Amandadp September 9, 2012
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!
redmaryt May 25, 2012
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.