Chicken with Lemon and Olives

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Lemon and chicken are a classic combination in many cuisines around the world, but the inclusion of olives give this dish its Spanish character. Chicken thighs give the best flavour, but you can use breasts if you prefer, or a combination of thighs and drumsticks.

The original recipe does not require the chicken thighs to be skinned and slashed, but I do it for 2 reasons. It makes for a lower fat meal, and also allows the flavours of the sauce to penetrate right through the chicken.

I use pimento stuffed olives for extra colour, but the dish works equally well with plain green or black olives, or even almond stuffed olives. That’s the great thing about Spanish cookery – it’s an art, not a science. The important thing is that the dish looks and tastes good, not that you follow the recipe to the letter.

I usually serve this dish with rice, but you may prefer to serve it with new potatoes and peas or green beans. The fresh peas here are excellent at the moment. However you serve your chicken with lemon and olives, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s another great taste from Spain.

Ingredients for 4 servings

8 chicken thighs, skinned and slashed
2 cloves of garlic
4 teaspoons of ground cumin
4 teaspoons ground paprika
8 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, chopped

1 teaspoon of saffron

Juice of 2 lemons
500 ml of chicken stock
2 lemons, sliced
Medium tin of pimento stuffed olives

Place the chicken thighs into a shallow dish. Crush the garlic cloves in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt, adding the cumin, paprika and freshly ground black pepper. Mix with half the olive oil and coat chicken pieces. Cover and marinade in the fridge for two or three hours.
Heat the rest of the oil in a shallow flameproof casserole dish and brown the chicken, draining on kitchen paper after cooking.
Add the onion to the pan and fry until soft. Add the saffron, stir and cook for a minute to release the flavour. Return chicken to the dish and add lemon juice and chicken stock. Add sliced lemon and bring everything to a simmer.
Cover pan, reducing the heat so the mixture simmers steadily. Cook for 30 – 40 minutes, turning the chicken occasionally. Add olives for last 10 minutes of cooking time. If necessary, mix a dessertspoon of cornflour with a little white wine and add to pan for a thicker sauce.


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