The flavors of the Mediterranean transcend international boarders, reflecting the history and geography of the overall region. Each country or culture interprets the bounty of their local harvest in a unique and special way. Citrus fruit, in particular lemon is indigenous to the Medeterrean climate and is incorporated into the foods of the surrounding cultures. Although preserved lemons are a specialty of Northern Africa, they pair nicely with Italian dishes. Simple ingredients such as lemons, olive oil, parsley and capers are fundamental to Mediterranean cuisine.
In keeping things simple, lets chat a bit about entertaining. We all strive to be enchanting hosts and hostesses, effortlessly gliding from guest to guest, sipping wine while cleverly chatting about this or that. On the flip side – perhaps more often than not you are standing over a hot sauté pan, filling the kitchen with so much smoke that the alarm begins to pierce the sound barrier, while at the same time that fabulous outfit, which you really should have covered with an apron, is splattered with hot oil. If that later scenario is at all vaguely familiar, Pollo al Limone Conservati is the absolute perfect secondi for you – it can be prepared in advance, comes together easily, is ever so delicious, and carries minimal risk of a 911 call.
Chicken thighs are ideal when selecting a meat entree. The pieces are just the right size, aligning nicely in a roasting pan, they retain their juice once cooked, and can be reheated without sacrificing the integrity of the dish. This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled to accommodate your guests. Unlike standard lemons, the preserved Meyer lemon’s lower acidity level will not toughen the chicken during the brief marinating process. If you were unable to locate Meyer lemons and preserved the standard Eureka lemons, please reduce the total marinating time to one hour. Slicing the garlic makes it less susceptible to burning and allows it it be easily avoided for those who enjoy garlic flavor but are unable to digest it. A few capers, some chopped parsley, allora you have the makings of a memorable crowd pleaser.
To prepare Pollo al Limone a day in advanced just follow the basic recipe. Once removed from the oven, reserve the parsley garnish, cool thoroughly, cover and refrigerated for the following day. Gently reheat in the same roasting pan at 325° until warmed through. Spoon the pan drippings over the chicken pieces and garnish with chopped parsley and parsley sprigs.
- 8 chicken thighs, about 3 to 31/2 pounds
- 3 Tbs. Capers, preferably packed in salt and rinsed, or 3 Tbs Capers in brine drained
- 1½ preserved lemon, chopped but do not rinse
- 4 large cloves of garlic sliced
- 3Tbs olive oil
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
- 2 or 3 sprigs fresh Italian parsley
- Place the chicken in a roasting pan that will nicely accommodate the 8 thighs without crowding. Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt & freshly ground black pepper, drizzle with the olive oil, add the sliced garlic, approximately two thirds of the chopped preserved lemon and half of the capers: marinate in the refrigerator up to three hours (if using preserved Eureka lemons, the marinating time should not exceed one hour) and remove about 30 minutes prior to putting in the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 400º F, place the rack in the center of the oven.
- The chicken thighs should be skin side up, place the roasting pan into the preheated oven and roast for 30 minutes without opening the oven. After 30 minutes reduce the temperature to 350ºF, open the oven, turn the thighs over, skin side down, reverse the position of pan and roast for an additional 7 or 8 minutes.
- Open the oven, add the remaining chopped preserved lemon and capers, flip the thighs to skin side up again and continue to roast for another 7 to 10 minutes. The skin should be brown, and the natural juice and fat will be bubbling.
- Remove the pan from the oven. The chicken may be plated or served directly from the roasting pan. In either case, spoon some of the drippings along with the lemon, capers, & garlic over the chicken and garnish with the chopped parsley and parsley sprigs.
- This dish can easily be made a day in advance, refrigerated, and warmed gently in a 325º oven.