THIS, is a lemon! Roast lemon chicken with Sicilian olivies recipe.

When we first moved into our house, my wife Engogirl, declared that we MUST get a lemon tree. I said I didn’t want one because I thought it would take up too much room and I wouldn’t have that much use for the fruit. Engogirl insisted, so her mother bought us a Meyer lemon tree. Since my mother in law isn’t someone you want to get on the wrong side of and it pleases me to see my wife happy, I did as I was told and planted the tree.

It took about 3 years before we got any lemons but when we finally did, I was stunned at how good they were. The lemons are almost sweet enough to eat without any sugar added and the skins are fairly thin and a deep yellow.

This is a lemon

Our little tree (it’s only about 180cm or about 6ft) now produces about 60 to 80 lemons a year, all year round. The great thing about lemons is that you can leave them on the tree for about three months after they are ready to eat and you just pick them as you need them. That way they are always fresh and I don’t have to worry about them going off. Any lemons that I can’t use, I juice and make ice cubes with to cook with later. I usually cook something with lemon at least once a week.

There ain’t going to be any scurvy on my watch!

Here’s one of my favourite recipes (I’ve made this so many times) that I cooked for some friends last Friday night. The recipe originally comes from “Delicious” magazine (this magazine is fantastic has totally changed, for the better,  the way I cook) and it’s by Belinda Jeffery.

Roast lemon chicken with Sicilian olives.
Serves 4


Olive oil
4 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves
1 heaped tablespoon of thyme leaves and 8 sprigs
8 skinless chicken thigh cutlets (I use fillets)
Plain flour to dust
2 lemons, scrubbed, seeds removed and thinly sliced
1 and a half cups (375ml) of chicken stock
1 table spoon of chopped preserved lemon rind (you can get this from food stores catering to Arabs)
24 Sicilian olives or any other large green olive.


Preheat your oven to 190C (375F).

Fry the sliced onion, garlic and thyme in the olive oil over medium-low heat until the onion is a light golden colour (about 20 minutes). In the meantime dust the chicken in flour. When the onion is cooked turn up the heat to medium high and fry the chicken on both sides in the same pan for about four minutes a side until it’s golden.

Lay the cooked onion in a casserole dish and arrange the chicken on top. Then overlap the sliced lemon over top of the chicken. Heat up the chicken stock and chopped preserved lemon rind until it boils and then pour it into the pan the chicken was cooked in to deglaze the pan. Pour the contents of the deglazed pan around the chicken and place the dish in the oven for 50 minutes uncovered. Baste with the stock a few times while it’s cooking. After cooking for 50 minutes spread the olives over the lemon and cook for another 30 minutes (don’t think you can toss the olives in earlier to take a short cut, because they will burn and go black).

I serve this dish on a bed of cous cous that I mix lightly steamed asparagus into. For wine to go with this meal I recommend a lightly chilled soave.

By the way I didn’t adjust this shot to make the lemon look more saturated (as you can tell by my pasty winter complexion).  

6 thoughts on “THIS, is a lemon! Roast lemon chicken with Sicilian olivies recipe.”

  1. Ok, the Cheshire Cat grin if I ever saw one!! If I hadn’t tasted Meyer lemons and seen them before, I’d be saying that was a pale orange not a lemon! They are so so delicious. But, I don’t think we can get them year round here? Not sure. But, that dashing photo with upturn collar and pale face gives me an idea. Stay tuned! While you are traveling, I’m gonna make this recipe. It sounds wonderful!

  2. Pat

    Collar up = dashing? I have a confession, I didn’t do it on purpose, as a matter of fact it annoys me to see guys strutting around like bantam cocks with the their collars up.

    I hope you do try the recipe as it’s a beaut and I’m sure you’ll like it. Perhaps you could invite some friends over to share it with you.


    Feel free to try it out.

  3. Razz – Engogirl sounds just like my Mum when it comes to lemon trees. When we lived in New Zealand, my mother planted a lemon tree wherever we lived. Every time the trees bore fruit, she’d say “just leave the lemons on the tree for one more day, then we’ll pick them.” The local possums must have heard her because before Mum could fill her fruit bowl, they’d spend the night picking the fruit and peeling it, eating the skin and discarding the flesh. They did exactly the same thing with our mandarin and grapefruit trees. Sounds like you have your local possums trained somewhat better.

  4. I’ve read about and heard about Meyer lemons and now I see how fortunate you are that your mother in law prevailed.
    The recipe has made my mouth water and I’m tempted to try it, sadly using the pedestrian lemon that we have here.
    I wonder, if subbing our local sour orange( which to my taste isn’t very sour ) would add a more interesting undertone.

    We do have the equivalent of your Meyer in our Haitian limes which are the size of oranges, seedless, and render one cup of pure juice per fruit.

    I’m going to try your recipe with some creative substitutes.

    Great photo by the way.
    Oh, and that lemon would make a carnival clown look pale. You don’t look pasty at all!

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