24 March 2016

Nigel Slater's Chicken, Olives, and Lemons

Tucked in under all those olives, onions, lemon and saffron are the juiciest chicken thighs ! They spent the day in a spicy marinade paste that consists of a boatload of smashed garlic, cumin seeds, smoked paprika, turmeric, sea salt, black pepper and olive oil. Oh boy! Can't you just smell the kitchen while these cook?

This is a ridiculously easy dish to make. A couple onions get a quick fry up in a bit of olive oil, the chicken gets added and browned a bit on both sides. Add slices of lemon, more sea salt and plenty of black pepper, toss in enough hot water to bring the level just halfway up the chicken thighs. Cover and lower the heat. Simmer until the chicken is done (30 minutes or so). Toss in a handful of good quality green olives and a handful of torn cilantro and serve with an easy steamed vegetable and a big bowl of steamed basmati rice. Dinner on the table in less than an hour ... not counting the early morning marinade construction.

This recipe comes right from the pages of a Nigel Slater book that I adore ... the beauty of it is that one can very easily make as much or as little as one wishes ... just play with the number of chicken thighs (or legs), onions, lemons and olives. If you double the marinade paste you should be golden (no pun intended). I personally think this would be a really nice dinner party fix. Use really nice olives in this dish. They make it really special ... just sayin'. I really like these firm green monsters called castelvetrano olives. They're great in martinis too!

So, here's Nigel's recipe ... enjoy! I'm going to share this post over at I Heart Cooking Club. It's been such a long time since I've shared a meal with the ladies that organize that blog share! Pop over and see what everyone else is making for this week's potluck recipe share! There's quite a list of chefs and food writers in their potluck list at this point! The food's bound to be awesome!

Chicken, Olives, and Lemons
a Nigel Slater recipe

Dinner for 2:

Spice Paste Ingredients:

3 cloves garlic, peeled
coarse sea salt
three good pinches smoked paprika
1 tbsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin seeds
olive oil

4 chicken thighs - bone in and skin on

Smash the garlic cloves with the side of a knife and place in a mortar with a generous pinch of coarse sea salt.  Use the pestle to smash the garlic to a mushy paste. Add the spices and enough olive oil to make a thick spreadable paste. About two to three tablespoons of oil should do the trick.

Wash and dry 4 chicken thighs. Slather the spice paste on both sides and under the skin. Place the chicken in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least six hours. Overnight would be fine too.

Final Dish Ingredients:

a small drizzle of olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 lemon, washed and sliced into six slices (or so) ... pull the seeds out of the slices and discard them.
saffron threads, a BIG pinch
water for simmering
good quality green olives - castelvetrano olives are perfect for this dish
a handful of fresh cilantro, washed and dried - coarsely chopped or torn

One hour before you wish to eat, heat the olive oil in a deep covered fry pan.  Add the onions and sweat them for a few minutes. When they look glassy, add the chicken thighs and brown them until golden on both sides. Scrape all the marinade paste in around the chicken and onions. Add the lemon slices, saffron threads, and enough water to bring the level halfway up the sides of the thighs. Season well with sea salt and plenty of black pepper. Cover the pan and lower the heat to a low simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes. Just before serving, add the olives and sprinkle the cilantro over top. Serve piping hot with either basmati rice, hunks of good bread, a green salad or steamed vegetable ... enjoy!


  1. How can a dish not taste fantastic with a boatload of this spice spread? Like the way Nigel Slater put together simple delicious food.

  2. oh I absolutely adore this recipe... it's so unctuous and juicy and the lemon and olive combo is beautiful. Yours looks so warming and welcoming. Yes please. Happy Easter x

  3. Notes From the Larder is a great book and Nigel Slater does have such wonderful recipes. I love the warm colors in this one--your photos are making me drool! ;-)

  4. Yes, I love Nigel Slater's recipes too. Your chicken dish looks really delicious.

  5. I can almost smell the aroma of the garlic and spices from your description! Looks very flavourful and delicious! I have this book too, and have not cooked from it in a while, time to use it again!

  6. I love everything about this recipe, and with all of those ingredients on hand right now, I think this is now dinner for tomorrow night nailed!! Thanks for the inspiration :-)


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