Food and Drink

Lemon adds brightness to this delectable crispy-skinned chicken dish

Winter citrus shines in this crispy-skinned chicken dish with lots of garlic and freshly ground black pepper. Bone-in, skin-on thighs, which are very forgiving, get crisped up in a hot skillet and then cook to fork tenderness. If you can’t find bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, opt for boneless thighs since they are both economical and almost impossible to overcook.

Dry Spanish sherry adds an extra hint of nuttiness and a special subtle twist. Look for manzanilla, fino or amontillado sherries. Onions add a bit of sweetness to counter the lemon, or you can also add mushrooms for extra umami. If you’d like some creaminess, stir in just a bit of sour cream or heavy cream at the end. Serve with hot cooked rice, pasta or farro, or over thick slices of toasted bread rubbed with a little garlic.

Lemon pepper garlic chicken

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 large lemon, juice and zest (or 1 small orange)

2 tablespoons capers, drained of liquid

2 to 3 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

6 chicken thighs, preferably bone-in, skin-on (about 3 pounds)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed, avocado or canola

1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow or white onion or thinly sliced cremini or shiitake mushroom

1/4 cup dry Spanish sherry, such as fino, amontillado or manzanilla, or dry white wine

2 tablespoons heavy cream or sour cream

Garnish: Fresh basil or parsley

1. Grate zest from lemon, being careful not to grate the white pith; cut lemon in half. Cut one half in thin slices and juice the other half, about 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Place juice, zest and lemon slices in a small bowl; add capers and garlic slices, and set aside.

2. Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towel. Season both sides lightly with salt, and a generous amount of cracked pepper. Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan — preferably nonstick or a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet —over medium-high heat. (Note: If needed, cook chicken in batches; the thighs need room to crisp and cook without steaming.) When oil is hot and shimmering but not smoking, place thighs, skin-side down, into skillet. Let cook for five minutes, without moving the chicken, until the skin begins to crisp and fat renders. If the skin is cooking too quickly, reduce heat slightly. After five minutes, reduce heat to medium. Move pan around over the heat for even cooking but try not to move the chicken; it will release when it’s ready. Cook another 10 to 14 minutes, keeping an eye on temperature and reducing heat as needed. When chicken moves easily in pan and skin is golden brown, turn pieces over to brown other side; let cook, over medium-low, 10 minutes. Scatter onion slices between chicken pieces and cook another five minutes or so. Remove chicken to a plate, skin-side up; the chicken will not be cooked all the way through at this point, but close. Leave onions in pan and remove all but two to three tablespoons fat. Do not wipe out pan.

3. Add dry sherry (or wine); turn up heat and let alcohol cook off, about 30 seconds to one minute. Reduce heat to medium; add garlic, reserved lemon slices, juice, zest, capers and some cream. Taste and add more black pepper or salt as needed. Add chicken thighs, crispy skin-side up, back to pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and let cook another 10 minutes or until juices run clear when pierced with a knife. For extra crispy skin, broil for a few minutes. Serve hot with pan juices; garnish with fresh herbs if desired. Serve with cooked rice, orzo or farro, or over slices of toasted bread.

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