The Literate Chef

Dorothea’s Broiled Chicken with Lemon Gravy

In Chicken, Recipes on August 12, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Dorothea's Chicken with Lemon Gravy

Dorothea’s Chicken with Lemon Gravy

Eating the Ersatz Moroccan Chicken, which I concocted a few weeks ago, triggered a memory of one of my best-loved childhood meals, my mother’s Chicken with Lemon Gravy. It was my favorite comfort food (a term which admittedly was non-existent 60 years ago). Not only was the chicken juicy and tender, even the breast meat, but the skin was crispy and delicious. The lemon gravy was redolent of oregano and garlic; and, as a reward if I ate all of my chicken, I could pour some of the extra gravy onto my plate and sop it up with Italian bread.

So last night in memory of mom, I cooked up a batch of her Chicken with Lemon Gravy and after eating all of my portion, 1/2 of a split-breast and a thigh, I sopped up the extra gravy with several chunks of Italian bread. It was a great trip down memory lane and I felt very comforted. With a nod toward more contemporary cuisine, the chicken was accompanied by Grilled Summer Vegetables and roasted sweet potato slices drizzled with balsamic glaze; the latter, an idea introduced to us by a friend.

Dorothea 1943

Dorothea 1943

Ingredients:

5 lbs. of chicken pieces with skin on (we used 5 thighs and two split breasts, each cleaved in half*)
Juice of 8 lemons, approximately 1 cup
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chopped fresh oregano
1/3 cup thinly sliced garlic, about 16 cloves.
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Procedure:

1. Sprinkle both sides of each chicken piece with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, water, oregano and garlic to make a marinade.
3. Place chicken skin side down in a non-reactive pan and add marinade.
4. Marinate 1 hour at room temperature turning once after 30 minutes. If you have the time, marinate overnight in the refrigerator and turn pieces periodically.
5. Position oven rack about 6 inches below broiler element, remove chicken from marinade, place skin side up on a broiler pan and baste before placing under heat.
6. Add marinade to a small pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer while chicken is broiling.
7. Broil chicken for about 22 minutes, basting frequently with the marinade. Turn pieces and broil 22 minutes more, basting frequently.
8. Raise rack one level, turn chicken pieces skin side up, baste with marinade and broil for about 4 minutes to crisp the skin.
9. When chicken is done, remove to a plate and keep warm.
10. Add pan juices to the boiled marinade, skim the fat and serve with chicken.

*Note: This recipe provided a main course for two, with enough leftovers for another meal.

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  1. Finally!!! My all-around favorite recipe from childhood!!

  2. It’s our mother’s fault we love bread with everything!

  3. The recipe sounds great, Richard. The combination meat and lemon is one of my favorite. What a wonderful picture! Your mom was so beautiful.
    F. Xx

  4. Excellent!!! This is really an old Sicilian recipe based on the cuisine of the Moors of North Africa who conquered Sicily and remained for a century before leaving. The heavy use of lemons is an ear mark of the style.

    • Thank you, Peter! While I knew of the Moorish occupation, I never connected that with the cuisine, it makes infinite sense about the lemons. Thankfully the Vikings, who also occupied Sicily, did not leave any vestiges of their cuisine.

  5. Such a simple and delicious recipe. Lemon and chicken does work wonderfully, and this recipe proves the point. Lovely old picture.

  6. Yum, Aunt Dot’s broiled chicken w/ lemon gravy. Chicken at its best add a side of sautéed spinach and loaf of crusty Italian bread and I’m in heaven.

    Sent from my iPad

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