Don’t Forget the Lemon

I have a collection of recipes that I have clipped from the pages of the New York Times for years. The other night, I was looking for something to do with organic chicken parts that I had bought at the farmer’s market and remembered that I had a recipe for chicken cooked with green olives. I LOVE green olives and had chicken and so I flipped through my book at found the recipe.

I made it and it was okay. The Gourmand liked it, but I thought that the chicken skin was slimy and the olives were overpoweringly briny. And I like briny! So, you can imagine…

The Gourmand asked, “Did you put in the lemon?” and I realized, that I had neglected that last step. I didn’t think it could be that important. I decided that I needed to revamp the recipe and that the venerable NY Times had failed me. The Gourmand had other ideas. He got up and sliced a lemon. (By the way, there is a global shortage of lemons. They are going for $0.79 a piece!) 

Squirting the lemon on my meal completely transformed the experience. The briny-ness was transformed into something…almost…creamy. I had made lebanese cous-cous as a side and suddenly this combination…made sense. So, I give you this lesson: don’t forget the lemon. 

Chicken with Green Olives (Adapted from the NY Times)
Serves 4

2 T olive oil
3-4 lbs cut up whole, bone-in organic chicken pieces, cut into serving size, extra fat removed
salt and pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp fresh ginger, diced fine
1 cinnamon stick
1 T minced garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 cups organic chicken stock
1 1/2 cup green olives, drained, pitted, and chopped
Lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large pot (big enough to hold all the chicken pieces for braising) heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chicken pieces in a single layer and brown both sides, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. This will take several batches, and when you put the chicken in, don’t move it. Let it sear.

Remove the chicken pieces to a plate and turn heat down to medium. Add the onion, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, cumin, & paprika, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens. Add the stock, raise heat and add the chicken pieces back in. Cover and simmer until the meat pulls away easily from the bone, about 30 minutes. Add the olives and bring back to a simmer.

To serve, I made cous-cous. You could use rice, egg noodles, quinoa, etc. Put the chick on the plate and squirt generously with lemon juice. Sprinkle with cilantro.

*I found this was even better the next day, when I took the chicken off the bones, shredded it, and put it back in the sauce. I served that over egg noodles and it was amazing.