Slow-cooked Chicken with Lemon and Honey – and a childhood memory

My mother remarked recently on how often she gets a mention in my posts. It’s a happy mention when I’m talking about food and my mother. That’s because writing about food often evokes the smells and tastes from my childhood. Memories of the food we ate as a child are powerful. And not necessarily always in a good way – a bad eating experience in our younger years can linger for decades.

But I like to think the scales tip towards good memories. And perhaps my fondest of them all is my mother’s roast chicken. It was my favourite meal as a child. And not something we had too often. In those days (oh dear!) chicken was not the cheapest of meats and roast chicken was a treat.

Does everyone grow up believing their mother cooks the best roast dinner in the world? It’s certainly how I felt as a child. As soon as the chicken came out of the oven I would lift myself into position on the bench and watch as Mum deftly handled and plated the fabulous bird. She would tell you that she was lucky to get any of it on the plate if I was in range. And her roast potatoes! It was such a beautiful thing.

Fast forward to today and still the smell of chicken cooking in the oven fills me with nostalgia and a sense of comfort and security. Surely nothing can be that bad if there’s chicken in the oven?

But there is more than one way to cook a chook and a full-on roast dinner is not always practical or what you’re in the mood for – especially during mid-summer when temperatures are soaring.

We’re hitting the stride of mid-winter in New Zealand so it is indeed roast season. But considering my last couple of posts have been the perfect winter warmers, this week I wanted to share a dish that can easily traverse the seasons.

This is most definitely that dish. The delectable flavour of chicken with lemon and honey would admirably enhance a long and lazy summer’s evening or similarly provide much needed sunshine and warmth on a dark winter’s night.

Yes, the chicken is slow-cooked so I won’t pretend that you can have it on the table in minutes. But there is a big difference between a dish that is quick to cook and one that is quick to prepare. I’m always inclined to go for the latter. Dishes that take a solid forty minutes of chopping and prep work often make me wish I’d chosen to cook something else. I’d much rather spend five or ten minutes assembling ingredients in an oven dish, close the oven door and then forget about it for a couple of hours.

I most often serve this fabulous chicken with couscous. It’s a perfect partner to the tender chicken and sticky sauce. Stir some toasted almonds and pine nuts through the couscous and suddenly you have a perfect contrast of textures.

This is the sort of dish that will have your family and friends salivating well before they get to the table. Your house will be permeated with the most incredible scent of chicken cooking in lemon, honey and garlic. Gorgeous.

 

Slow-cooked Chicken with Lemon & Honey

Serves 4

 

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken legs, bone in and skin left on
  • 6 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled
  • 1 large lemon, cut into eighths
  • Handful of fresh thyme sprigs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 60ml dry white wine
  • 60ml chicken stock
  • 60ml liquid honey
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh oregano leaves, for garnish

For the Couscous:

  • 170g couscous
  • 250ml boiled water (from the kettle)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 40g pine nuts, toasted
  • 40g sliced almonds, toasted

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  2. Place the chicken legs in a large oven or roasting dish. Place the garlic cloves, lemon pieces and thyme sprigs around the chicken.
  3. In a glass jug combine the olive oil, wine, chicken stock and honey. Whisk together well until the honey has dissolved.
  4. Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper and then pour over the wine, stock and honey mixture, ensuring that the chicken legs are well coated.
  5. Cover the dish tightly with foil and transfer to the oven. Cook for two hours.
  6. After two hours, increase the heat of the oven to 210°C, remove the foil from the oven dish and give the chicken legs a good basting. Continue to cook for 15-20 minutes until the chicken legs have burnished and turned golden brown. You need to watch carefully during this time. The honey helps this process to happen quite quickly.
  7. Remove the chicken legs and lemon pieces to a warmed platter and cover to keep hot.
  8. Squeeze the garlic from their skins (discard the skins) and stir into the sauce that is left in the dish. Now pass this sauce through a sieve into a pan and place the pan on the hob. Bring the sauce to a rolling simmer and let it reduce until it has thickened and is wonderfully sticky.
  9. While the sauce is reducing you can make the couscous. Ensure the kettle is freshly boiled.
  10. Measure the couscous into a bowl along with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour over the boiling water and place the butter on top.
  11. Cover the bowl tightly with a plate or foil and leave for between 7-10 minutes. You want all the water to have soaked into the couscous.
  12. Once ready stir the couscous with a fork to avoid clumps and also to stir through the butter that will have melted in the boiling water. Add the toasted pine nuts and almonds and stir through with the fork.

Serve the chicken with the couscous and drizzle over the divine sticky sauce. Scatter over the oregano leaves to garnish. The lemon pieces can be served as an accompaniment because they will have cooked down to the point where even their skins are soft and sticky.

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I like to also serve this with steamed broccolini for a vibrant green addition to the plate.

I can’t think of anything else to say – you really need to try this to know how delicious it is. Love, love, love!

 

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24 Comments

  1. Rini says:

    I can’t recall if my mother ever made a roast chicken. Turkey, pot roasts, chicken drumsticks and wings, ribs, etc., but I honestly can’t recall a roasted chicken. Huh?! Lol It does take a while to make, but it’s worth it. Yours looks absolutely delicious, Tracey.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. annika says:

    What a lovely memory and tribute to your mom! I will have to wait for a cooler day to try this one… we are actually quite lucky here that even in the midst of summer, we can still have some a really cool day and turning on the oven for a few hours is the perfect option rather than turning on the heating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Annika. I feel fortunate to have such lovely food memories from my childhood. You really can’t go wrong with this recipe – everyone I’ve cooked it for has loved it! Hope you’re enjoying the summer holidays. It’s miserable in Auckland today xx

      Liked by 1 person

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