Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lemon Chicken and Asparagus with Walnuts

I expect everyone who eats meat has a lemon chicken recipe in their lives.  When a co-worker, relative, neighbor or gym friend (Kate!) brings them to the office, leaves them out on the curb, or just brings them over, use them!  Buying them at the store or even the farmer's market is a waste of money.  I found a great recipe on Simply Recipes and modified it a bit.  I served it with some Asparagus with Walnuts and a simple green salad and it was delicious.  Leo asked for 2 servings of the chicken so that was a good sign and the first time I made it, Steve polished off close to a pound of the stuff.  This time I made close to 3 pounds so I could have it the next day in a salad--it also helps that Steve was out of town so planned leftovers were an actuality.

Lemon Chicken

3-4 pounds chicken parts (thighs and legs recommended), skin-on, bone-in, trimmed of excess fat--I used 2-3 lbs. boneless, skinless thighs (Mary's Organic)
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon zest
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp fresh chopped thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Lemon slices for garnish
*optional 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted

Place olive oil, lemon juice, lemon peel, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, whisk to combine. With the tip of a sharp knife, cut into each chicken piece one or two times by about 1/2 an inch. (This will help the marinade penetrate.) Place the chicken pieces and the marinade in a gallon-sized freezer bag. Rotate the bag so that all chicken pieces are coated with the marinade. Seal the bag and place in a bowl in the refrigerator (in case of leakage). Let marinate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Remove chicken from marinade and place in a single layer in a large baking dish, skin side up. Reserve the marinade. Use a pastry brush to brush a little melted butter on to each piece of chicken.

Bake for a total of 50 to 55 minutes (40 min. if just using boneless skinless thighs), until the skins are crispy brown, and the chicken is cooked through, juices running clear (breasts have an internal temperature of 165°F and thighs 175°F). Half-way through the baking, at about the 25 minute mark, baste the chicken pieces generously with reserved marinade.

Depending on the size of the breasts, they may be ready before the thighs, so if you are cooking a mix of chicken parts, keep that in mind, you may have to take them out of the oven before the thighs.
Let rest, covered in foil, for 10 minutes before serving.

Pour the juices from the pan into a serving bowl. Use a tablespoon to skim the fat off the top (save the fat for cooking with later, or discard, but do not discard down the drain or it will solidify and clog your drain). Serve the chicken with the juices on the side or add the toasted walnuts then pour the marinade over the top of the chicken.

Asparagus with Walnuts 

1 lb. asparagus (Full Belly Farm)
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or butter
1/4-1/2 cup walnuts (Blue Heron Farms)
sea salt and pepper

Heat the oil or butter in a large saute pan until hot but not smoking.  Add the asparagus and saute, adding the salt and pepper and stirring occasionally for about 15 min.  Let the tips get brown, even charred a bit.  The last 2 minutes add the walnuts and let them heat up with the asparagus.

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