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Lemon & Sicilian Olive Baked Chicken with Pearl Couscous


I love cooking and creating beautiful flavours, but I also love midweek meals to be easy. Easy to prepare, easy to cook and even easier to clean up.

Years ago my mum loved making a delicious tray baked meal called "Harvest Chicken". It is a recipe that has stuck with my family and we all absolutely love it.

We all have a love of lemons. Mainly inspired by mums ridiculous addiction to adding lemon and lemon zest to pretty much every meal, but also because it's so damn good!

This simple recipe is perfect for 4-6 people, depending on how hungry you are. To make it go further increase the amount of crusty bread at serving time, add more thigh cutlets and serve with some steamed greens.

This will be a meal you make time and time again for dinner and even easy nights entertaining your friends. When you do I hope you think of my lovely mum when you add extra lemon zest at the end of baking. You won't be able to help yourself!

LEMON & SICILIAN OLIVE BAKED CHICKEN WITH PEARL COUSCOUS

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

2-3 red onions, quartered then skin removed to keep wedges together

3 lemons, one thickly sliced and laid in the baking dish, one thinly sliced to add to the top once the chicken is placed on top (this will caramelise) and one final lemon for zesting prior to serving

1-2 punnets of mixed baby heirloom tomatoes, bases scored

6-8 garlic cloves, smashed, skin in tact

1 cup of pitted green Sicilian olives (small jar)

3/4 cup pearl couscous

1 cup chicken stock

Fresh thyme leaves

Fresh rosemary leaves

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

4-6 chicken thigh cutlets with skin on (bone in is optional)

To Serve

Fresh crusty baguette, ciabatta or sourdough

METHOD

1. Get a large baking dish. A lasagne dish works perfectly. Line with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

2. Add onion wedges, thick lemon slices, baby heirloom tomatoes, smashed garlic cloves, pitted green Sicilian olives and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with a handful or two each of the thyme and rosemary. Toss to combine then add the pearl couscous, ensuring it falls into gaps reaching the base of the baking dish. Give the dish a shake to make sure the pearls are mostly at the bottom.

Before adding the pearl couscous

With the couscous

3. Pour the stock evenly over the baking dish. Season lightly.

4. Place the chicken thigh cutlets, skin side up, on top of the vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil, rub into the skin, season and sprinkle with additional herbs. Place the thin lemon slices between the chicken so they're poking up enough to cooking and caramelise in the oven.

5. Place the dish into the oven.

Allow it to bake for 1 hour - 1 hour and 15 minutes or until chicken skin has gone golden and crispy and the pearl couscous is softened.

Approximately 5-10 minutes before serving place the bread in the oven to warm.

6. Remove everything from the oven and allow it to rest for 2-5 minutes for the couscous to absorb the cooking liquid.

Top the dish with fresh lemon zest.

Spoon the chicken in bowls and serve with crusty bread.

NOTE: This dish is rustic and extremely lemon oriented. Don't forget to remove the peel of the garlic cloves while eating your meal. If the bitterness of lemons worries you, mash some of the tomatoes through before serving as they increase the sweetness of the dish.

Additionally, I eat the lemon slices, but if you want to avoid excess bitterness, remove them prior to eating too.

You can thank me later!

WINE SUGGESTION

For the zesty and intense lemon flavours in this dish a light white wine would definitely be the best move. Find a refreshing dry Riesling, put it in the fridge to chill while preparing the meal and enjoy it with your meal.

The perfect summer match for this style of baked dish!

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