05 April 2013

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Yesterday, I butterflied a little chicken - just enough for SB and I ! Then, I rubbed it all up with lemon zest strips, cayenne pepper, some lemon juice, and olive oil and let it marinate overnight. Today, I made a killer chicken dinner ...

This little chicken got a full treatment with so many interesting flavours that SB and I sat and wondered why it has taken me so long to try out this recipe ... it comes from Matthew Kenney's Mediterranean Cooking. This is a cook book that I pull off the shelf a couple times a year - usually when I am really tired of the same old same old or if I have a hankering for northern African tagine or interesting meat treatments. Anyway, I think this combination of spices and aromatics is just so cool ... see what you think.

So, here you have it. Ginger root, garlic, grated onion, red pepper, lemon juice, green olives, pine nuts, honey, chicken broth, and cilantro. Is that a line up, or what? So new to me, but having just knoshed this dish I can tell you that it is so fantastic! It's a real list of ingredients, but it is worth the effort! I prepped the small amounts of everything ahead of time, made a nice couscous side dish to use as a bed for the completed chicken ( while the chicken roasted), and wilted a huge box of fresh spinach (while I prepped the green olive and honey lemon sauce for the chicken). The spinach was a perfect side, as it soaked up the juices from the chicken and caught the excess pine nuts and olives in every few bites. I repeat. This was such a good dinner.

The key to making the cooking of this dish manageable is having a flamewear or cast iron or Creuset-type pan that can go from the stove top to oven and back again. I have this big round shallow porcelain-clad cast iron baking dish that was perfect for us. The key to serving the dish is having a platter large enough to plate the chicken/sauce and a nice wreath of couscous around the chicken to soak up the juices.

There was enough for SB and I to have plenty for dinner and then a small lunch for one of us as leftovers. Stay tuned to hear who wins the battle for the leftovers! An extensive recipe, but well worth the work ... if you're a working soul during the week, save this recipe for a lazy Saturday afternoon or Sunday supper.

Lemon Chicken with Pine Nuts and Green Olives
For Two
Note: The recipe includes directions to make a side dish of Couscous with Carrots and Currants and another side of Wilted Spinach for a complete meal. I highly recommend both sides, as the sauce and juices from the chicken really complement the couscous and spinach.


A 2 ½ to 3 lb chicken, washed and butterflied (backbone removed and splayed flat)

¼ c. olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Zest of one lemon (use a zester that will create long very narrow curls of lemon peel)
a generous pinch cayenne pepper

Place the prepared chicken in a shallow bowl or plastic bag and massage the marinade into the flesh and inner cavity of the bird. Seal the container and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Sauce Ingredients:

½  c. pine nuts, toasted and set aside
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 tbsp. grated onion (one large onion)
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. minced ginger root
a pinch of red pepper flakes
½  c. green olive slivers
1 tbsp. honey
1 ¼ c. hot chicken stock with a generous pinch of saffron threads steeped in it
1 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro

One hour before you wish to eat, begin making the dish.

Making the Dish:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F and place the rack in the center position.
  2. Heat a flame wear or cast iron roasting pan over medium-high heat on the stove top. When the pan is hot, place 2 tbsp. of the marinade liquid in the pan, and lay the chicken skin side down in the pan. Let the chicken sear to brown the skin for about 4 or 5 minutes. Turn the chicken and do the same for the inner cavity of the bird.
  3. Place the chicken in the pre-heated oven and roast for 35 to 40 minutes – until the juices run clear when the plump breast is poked.
  4. Prep the green olive and pine nut sauce ingredients, make the couscous side dish and prepare 1 lb. of fresh spinach leaves for wilting, while the chicken roasts.
  5. When the chicken is roasted, remove the chicken and place it on a large platter, turn the oven off and place the platter in the warm oven to keep it warm.
  6. Place the roasting pan on the stove and remove all but 2 tbsp. of the cooking fats (leave the juices, just remove the fat).
  7. Bring the heat up under the pan and add the grated onion, garlic, ginger root, and red pepper flakes, stirring until the onion begins to brown up.
  8. When the onion is golden brown, add the pine nuts, lemon juice, green olives, honey and chicken stock/saffron. Stir and let the sauce bubble to reduce for about 7 minutes.
  9. While the sauce reduces, wilt the spinach in a large fry pan with a tbsp. olive oil, a lump of butter, and a smashed garlic clove.
  10. When the spinach is almost ready, place the butter and cilantro in the green olive sauce and stir to melt the butter and thicken the sauce up a bit. Turn off the heat under the sauce.
  11. Fluff up the couscous and place a wreath of couscous around the chicken, cut the chicken down the center of the breast to make two servings. Pour the sauce over the chicken.
  12. Place the spinach in a serving bowl and serve dinner.

Couscous with Carrots and Currants
For Two


1 c. couscous
2 c. strong hot chicken broth steeped with a generous pinch of saffron threads
1 pat butter
1 medium carrot, very small dice
¼ c. dark currants
1 small shallot, very small dice

Making the Couscous:

  1. Place the butter in the bottom of a heavy saucepan with the carrots and shallots. Sauté for three or four minutes until the shallots shimmer and the carrots begin to soften.
  2. Add the couscous and toss to mix the vegetables in. Pour the hot chicken broth/saffron over top. Cover the pot and turn off the heat.
  3. Leave the pot for twenty minutes to a half hour.
  4. Toss the currants in after about ten minutes to soften in the residual steam. Recover the pot and let it sit for the remaining time.
  5. Just before serving, toss the couscous lightly with forks to fluff everything well.
  6. Plate and serve.


  1. Come cook for me! (I have my twin grandchildren all week, so it's been sloppy joes, grilled cheese, etc ) This looks delicious.

  2. Oh wow - those are most of my favourite flavours, right there in one dish! It looks awesome, I'm most envious and will be trying this soon.

  3. Susan, this recipe is really a find! I love that it is scaled to feed two. It sounds absolutely delicious. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  4. That's a good looking chick!!! Yummy, yummy! Have a wonderful Sunday!!!

  5. Looks delicious! I don't open out my chickens often enough. They cook so much nicer this way.

  6. This really is a good looking chicken dish. The ingredients list doesn't look to bad. I love cilantro and ginger together.


Anonymous comments will not be accepted. Please be aware that due to spamming concerns, I must be able to track back. Use your Google account ID to comment.