Lemon and pepper roasted chicken with fried rice!
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Lemon and pepper (black peppercorns) has got to be up there as one of the most classic flavour combinations and is very versatile with most meats and fish. Where the black pepper adds a little heat and fragrance, the lemon lends a bright, sharp and pallet pleasing element...Just thinking about lemons, makes your mouth water right?
Another reason for using lemon with meat, apart from the flavour of course, and particularly with meat that has dense muscle structure, is that it acts as a tenderiser. The acids, denature the proteins, causing the muscle fibres to break apart, making space for more moisture to enter the meat and to be retained within the fibres, making for a juicier bite. That's my understanding of it anywho... I'm no scientist.
To balance out the acidity, I used some honey in this recipe, and again, you can't go far wrong with that combo! Lemon n' honey, still a well-used cure-all for colds, flu and sore throats, and now an aid to soothe those common hAnger Pains...Let's add garlic into the mix and kick this up a notch! "Lemon, garlic and honey!?" Surely, a holistic super cocktail containing magical properties like something from a fantasy movie? -"The Search For The Elixir of life". Well no, actually there's science to this too. Garlic contains a chemical compound that when crushed or chopped, releases something called Allicin, a lot of people swear by its health benefits - a quick google search will bring up a whole host of home remedy style recipes and potions, I will let you make up your own mind on that.
Okay, moving on...
I paired the chicken with fried rice, mushrooms and peas. I think rice goes well with this recipe so you can use any rice dish you want: dirty rice, peri peri rice, plain rice, etc...
Equally, if you don't want rice, I can see this working well with a good selection of roasted or grilled vegetables.
Moreover, as this is a bright and zesty dish and the sun is starting to show. You could try grilling the chicken on a BBQ (it will work just as well!) and enjoy outdoors!
Prep time : 1 hour (for Marinating)
Cook time : 40 min
For the Chicken and marinade -
450/500g boneless chicken thighs
2 Large Lemons (1 juiced and zested and 1 for slices and garnish)
4 Spring onions (2 for the marinade and 2 for fresh garnish at the end)
4 Tbsp Runny Honey (2 tbsp for the marinade and 2 to drizzle before roasting)
3 Large Garlic cloves
1 Tbsp freshly cracked black Pepper
3 tsp ground Coriander seeds
1 Tbsp Honey apple cider vinegar (if you can't get this, just use a sweet apple vinegar)
Sesame seeds (for garnish at the end)
Salt to taste (save till the end when the chicken is cooked and you can taste to your preference)
For the fried rice -
2-4 servings of cooked and cooled rice
50ml Rapeseed oil
100g frozen or fresh peas
300g Button mushrooms (diced)
Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 large clove garlic (minced)
2 Tbsp dark Soy sauce
Splash of Sesame oil
Start with marinating the chicken -
Roughly chop 2 of the spring onions and garlic, slice one of the lemons into rounds and combine the rest of the marinating ingredients into a bowl with the chicken. (*remember to reserve some ingredients as instructed in the ingredients list above)
Cover the chicken and marinating ingredients with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour but as always, a longer marinate is always better.
Pre-heat oven to 180°C
Empty the chicken and the rest of the marinating ingredients onto a roasting tray/tin.
Drizzle the remaining honey directly onto the chicken pieces and place in the oven for 30 - 35 minutes until deep golden brown and sticky.
While the chicken is cooking, heat up a large frying pan or Wok with the rapeseed oil. Add garlic and ginger and cook till soft and fragrant. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook till soft, once the mushrooms are soft, start adding the rice one spoonful at a time and slowly incorporate the rice with the mushrooms. Once all the rice has been added, add the peas, mix through and cook for a further 2 minutes. Now add the Soy sauce, sesame oil, season to taste and turn down the heat.
The chicken should be done by now, if it is not quite done and still looks a little under cooked (not quite browned), just leave it in the oven for a couple more minutes. You can reheat the rice as and when you need it.
I like to serve this on a large platter with freshly chopped spring onions, lemon wedges and sesame seeds. This is quite a bright tasting dish, if you enjoy a drink with your meals, I would suggest a crisp white wine (nothing too sweet) or a light lager to go with it.
*Tip - You can buy ready ground coriander seeds but I would recommend getting the whole seeds, toasting them in a dry pan and grinding them yourself in either a spice grinder or Mortar and Pestle. The aroma is incredible and it adds a warming flavour to the over all dish.
Hope you enjoy,