Chicken with garlic and lemon is a popular dish in many countries and definitely Spain, which produces the largest amount of garlic in Europe and the 6th largest amount in the world. Spain doesn’t produce quite as many lemons globally, but it is, similarly, Europe’s largest producer. This is a fairly simple dish, the marinade is easy and once the bird goes into the oven, it can look after itself – no basting required.
Mash a whole (peeled) head of garlic, with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle to make a paste. I find it easier to chop the garlic a bit first.
the juice of 1 lemon
50ml extra virgin olive oil
a level teaspoon thyme leaves
a whole head of garlic turned to paste with a mortar and pestle
a pinch of sea salt and a few turns of ground black pepper
Mix the garlic with the juice of a lemon, 50ml olive oil, a level teaspoon of thyme and some sea salt and cracked black pepper.
Lemon and Garlic Chicken:
1 medium (about 3lb) chicken (spatchcocked), or chicken legs and thighs
1 medium onion (sliced)
a few slices of lemon
a handful of black olives
1/2 pint chicken stock
parsley to serve
Spatchcock the chicken. Lay it breast down and push down hard until you hear a crack.
Snip out the backbone with some strong kitchen scissors and lay the bird out flat. There’s no need for skewers unless cooking on a barbecue.
Spread the marinade over the chicken – inside and out. Allow to rest for 2 hours – if the weather is moderate it doesn’t need to be in the fridge, but if it’s hot (above 20º C), or you want to leave it longer, make sure it’s in the fridge. Do use a non reactive dish – not metal! This doesn’t need a long marination (lemon cures meat and chicken isn’t exactly tough to start with), it’s just to add flavour. Be careful not to put a cold ceramic dish (from the fridge) into a hot oven – it will crack!
Lift the chicken out of the cooking dish, pour any residual marinade into a jug and lay the sliced onion on the bottom.
Pour on 1/2 pint of chicken stock.
Return the chicken to the baking dish, above the onion. Pour the marinade from the jug, back on top of the bird. Place a few lemon slices on the chicken and sprinkle on a handful of black olives. Cook in a preheated oven at 220º C for one hour. Rest the chicken for 20 – 30 minutes (in foil) before carving.
Sprinkle with parsley and do squeeze on a little more fresh lemon juice.
Make a gravy with the juices at the bottom of the pan, while the chicken rests.
Serve with the onions, roast potatoes (which can be cooked in the oven at the same time) and seasonal vegetables. I recommend drinking a glass or two of El Pollo Alegre, a white wine made with Zalema grapes from D.O Condado de Huelva.
This is also a perfect barbecue dish, which should be served with allioli.