Thursday, July 10, 2014

Baked Chicken with Capers and Olives

Lemon Baked Chicken with Capers and Olives

I've been playing around with cooking with chicken recently since I feel like it's one of those proteins easily and often overcooked, but is so good when done right: moist, tender and full of flavor.  So for my 200th post, I'm excited to share with you one of my new favorite Paleo dishes: lemon baked chicken with capers and olives.  Check it out!

Oh yeah, this chicken dish pairs so deliciously with my Paleo Cauliflower "Couscous".

Brining is not necessary but I like to do it to enhance the flavor.


Ingredients for the Chicken Brine (4 cups):
  • 2lb bone-in, skin-on Chicken Thighs
    • You can certainly use boneless and skinless , or other parts-- just try to keep them around the same thickness.  They're still good but not as good as the skin-on, bone-in version though.
  • 4 Cups Water
  • 1 Tsp Champaign Vinegar
  • 2 Tsp Rosemary, dried
  • 1 Tsp Parsley, dried
  • 1/4 Tsp Thyme, dried
  • 3 large Tbsp Honey
  • 1Tbsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup Kosher Salt
Ingredients for the Baked Chicken w/ Capers and Olives:
  • Brined chicken thighs from above, drained and PATTED DOWN DRY!
  • 1 cup fresh Olives, mixed and pitted (I bet they would taste better with the seeds since those have more flavor but would be a pain to eat) + their oils
  • 2 Tbsp Capers, drained nonpareil
  • 1 small Shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of Garlic, finely minced
  • 1 large Meyer Lemon, about 3/4 of it sliced thinly and the rest saved for juicing
  • 1/4 cup Dry White Wine
  • 2 Tbsp Greek Oregano, dried
  • Fine sea salt, to taste
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2. mmm variety of fresh Spanish and Greek pitted olives from the farmer's market!

Instructions for the Chicken Brine (12 hours beforehand):
  1. In a large sauce pan, combine all the ingredients except for the chicken and bring the water to a boil.  Boil for about a minute or so, stirring to dissolve the salt.
  2. Remove from heat and cool completely.  I used ice cubes to quickly cool the brine or you can refrigerate and use it when it's cool.  
  3. Pour the brine into a large mixing bowl or container large enough to hold the chicken and and the brine.  Completely cover the chicken pieces with the brine.  Refrigerate for 12 hours or so.  I like to brine the night before.
    3. Chicken Marinade
  4. The next day, discard the brine, rinse, and then PAT IT and really PAT IT DOWN DRY with paper towels.  Drying the chicken is so important.  Please don't skip this step.
  5. Let the chicken SIT for at least 60 minutes so it can get to room temperature.  Just one of the few tricks to get that moist tender chicken.  Room temperature meats cook more evenly and less juice leaks out.
Please make sure the chicken is dry and at room temperature before continuing.  Instead of brining, you could marinade the chicken w/ similar spices above for 45-60 minutes at room temperature if you're under time pressure.

Instructions for the Baked Chicken w/ Capers and Olives
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.  Make sure your chicken is patted dry and at room temperature.
    4. Dry room temperature bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs.
  2. Pour some olive oil in an empty large enameled cast iron baking dish or large cast iron skillet.  Create a bed for the bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs using the finely chopped shallot, 4 finely chopped garlic cloves, 1 cup of mixed olives (also using the oils and liquids), 2 Tbsp of drained nonpareil capers, and lemon slices (from 3/4 of the lemon, save the other 1/4 for juicing).  
    5. Reducing the onion.
  3. Put the chicken thighs on top of the bed you just created, skin up.  Don't over crowd the baking dish.  If you need to, use additional baking dishes.  Drizzle some olive oil over the skin of each chicken.  Season with the 2 Tbsp of dried Greek Oregano and a light shake of fine sea salt (not too much since it will already have some salt from the brine).
    6. bone-in/skin-on chicken thighs almost ready for the oven.
  4. For boneless/skinless chickens only: If you are using boneless and skinless chicken thighs, you would do step 2 and 3 in reverse.  In this case, it's ok if your olives, capers, shallots, garlic, and lemon slices are on top.

    7. Before pressure cooker magic.
  5. On the edges of the baking dish and in the cracks, pour the 1/4 cup of dry white wine.  Be careful not to get the wine on the chicken skin.  

    8. I like to cook with wines I wouldn't mind drinking too.  Solid, especially for $10
  6. Bake the chicken for ~20-25 minutes or until your thermometer reads 165F.  You could also prick the chicken in the thickest part of the thigh and if the juices run clear, it's done.  Optionally, you can bast with the juices once, around half way.  If you're using boneless and skinless chicken, it will cook faster.
    9. Bone-in, Skin-on Chicken out of the oven!  to me, this clearly looks better

    10. boneless/skinless chicken out of the oven. 
  7. Remove from the oven and let it rest for ~5 minutes before serving.

While the chicken was in the oven, I made the Cauliflower "Couscous".  It pairs so well with this dish!

Now put the two together.

12. Picture is not so great, but I assure you, its delicious!

13. and this is why we spent so much time prepping the chicken.. for that juicy, tender, moist, perfectly cooked chicken thighs!

Next up is learning how to cut my own chicken pieces so I can get a whole chicken and use all the other bits for stock and stuff.  Hope you enjoyed this dish as much as we did!

Related Posts: Paleo Cauliflower "Couscous"