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Spice of life: Meyer lemon can add zest to chicken


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Meyer lemon chicken is a rich one-skillet meal.
SUBMITTED PHOTO
Meyer lemon chicken is a rich one-skillet meal. SUBMITTED PHOTO


Look around you. I would imagine that of the first five people you see, three are sick in some way or another. Congestion, coughing or worse — the flu.

There is a reason that many of us fall ill this time of year.

The germs are everywhere and are hard to avoid. Proper hand washing, getting a flu shot and staying away from people who are ill are just a few ways you can combat sickness in the winter months.

But what about diet, sleep, water intake, vitamins and good old exercise?

A few of the easiest ways to stay healthy are free and easy to do, such as getting an extra hour of sleep a night, trying to drink more water and adding a few more steps to your day. Taking the stairs, parking at the back of the lot and giving the dog a few extra minutes to play outside are a few good tips.

Take it from the mall walkers: You can walk off your dinner year round indoors as well.

I also like to up my vitamin C intake in the winter months. Not only do I like the natural boost, but citrus also is in season and more available right now. Blood oranges for juice and salads, Minneolas for breakfast or Cara Caras for my smoothies.

My favorite, though, is the Meyer lemon. I just love the way they smell unpeeled. They are a more petite citrus, a cross between a lemon and a Mandarin orange. They are less tart than the standard orange and perfect for cooking and baking. The scent is unmistakable and by far one of my favorite kitchen scents.

In this month’s issue of Cooking Light magazine, there is a piece on chicken 25 ways. The publication does this annually about this time of year. I’m sure it has something to do with January being a lean month money-wise (post-holiday debt), and people are looking for economical ways to eat healthier.

I found seven recipes right off the bat that I want to try and was happy to see that my favorite Meyer lemon was featured in a recipe or two. One such dish is a skillet meal that I am sharing today.

You can make a few substitutions, such as using boneless chicken breasts in place of the chicken halves, Kalamata olives in place of the listed ones and regular lemons in place of the Meyer variety. Just add a few teaspoons of sugar to the lemon juice at the end to stave off a tart taste. I was able to find Meyer lemons at Meijer and Kroger for a good price.

Adding a bit of zip from citrus fruit to your weeknight dishes is easier than you think with this easy recipe. Plus, it sounds as if we all could use a bit of extra vitamin C right now.

MEYER LEMON CHICKEN

Ingredients

2 skin-on chicken breast halves, halved crosswise

2 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided cooking spray

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound small red potatoes, quartered

1 Meyer lemon cut into slices

¼ cup of shallots, diced

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

½ cup white wine

½ teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped (may substitute dried — 1 teaspoon)

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 ounces pitted Castelvetrano olives

(I used Kalamata)

2 tablespoons of fresh Meyer lemon juice

2 tablespoons of butter

1 tablespoon of parsley, chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle chicken with ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Coat chicken with cooking spray and add to pan, skin side down. Cook 6 minutes or until skin is golden brown and crisp. Turn chicken over. Place pan in oven. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes or until juice runs clear.

Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Discard pan drippings. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to pan and add potatoes, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove from pan. Add lemon slices and cook for 1 minute on each side. Remove from pan. Add remaining oil, shallots and garlic to pan and saute for 2 minutes. Add wine and thyme, cook 1 minute or until liquid has cooked down.

Return potatoes and lemons to pan, add all but 1/3 of the chicken stock and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook 2 minutes, then add the remaining stock that has been mixed with the cornstarch. Pour over potatoes, add the olives. Bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, then add the butter and lemon juice. Return the chicken to the pan, turning to coat. Remove from heat and sprinkle with parsley.

Heather Tallman lives in the Center Grove area and writes the cooking blog Basilmomma.

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