Cooking Cove: Spring chicken recipes from Mrs. Chicken

Cooking Cove: Spring chicken recipes from Mrs. Chicken

Lemon Chicken

By Barbara Beltrami

Mrs. Betty Haynes who lived next door to us when I was a kid, was a nice lady and a terrific cook. Short and rather rotund, she would shuffle about her kitchen in slippers into the rocking chair in the corner and fan herself. “Honey, I ain’t no spring chicken,” she’d exclaim after she’d  put a chicken into the oven or pot or frying pan. It seemed that all she ever cooked was chicken (In fact, much to our parents’ consternation, we kids used to secretly refer to her as Mrs. Chicken). Eventually, she moved to Florida, and when we visited her, she would regale us with her chicken as she always had, but it had taken on new twists…twists of lemon and orange and lime from the trees in her tiny backyard. Here are my takes on her citrus-y chicken dishes, perfect for spring taste buds. 

Lemon Chicken

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves chopped

1/3 cup dry white wine

Freshly grated zest of 1 large lemon

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram leaves

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4 boneless half-pound chicken breasts with skin, washed and patted dry

1 lemon cut into 8 wedges

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley


Preheat oven to 400 F. In a small saucepan heat two tablespoons oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook briefly, about one minute; remove pan from heat before garlic turns brown. Next add wine, lemon zest and juice, marjoram, thyme and a little salt; pour mixture into ovenproof baking dish. Place chicken breasts, skin side up, in baking dish; drizzle with remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper; tuck lemon wedges among chicken pieces. Bake 30 to 45 minutes until skin is light golden and chicken is done. Remove from oven, cover tightly with aluminum foil and let sit for 10 minutes. Slice and serve with fresh asparagus and new potatoes.

Lime Chicken

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


8 large chicken thighs with bone and skin, washed and patted dry

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Pinch ground nutmeg

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup dry white wine

2 cups chicken stock or broth

Freshly squeezed juice of two limes

4 garlic cloves, chopped

Chopped leaves from 1 bunch of cilantro


Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, thoroughly mix the salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Rub thighs on both sides with spice mixture (be sure to smear it under the skin as well). In a large cast iron skillet, warm oil over medium-high heat. Brown thighs, turning once, until golden, about 8 to 10 minutes per side; remove from skillet and set aside. Stirring with back of wooden spoon, deglaze pan with white wine, reduce liquid to half the volume, then add broth.Bring to a simmer and add lime juice and garlic. Return chicken to pan, bring to strong simmer, and add cilantro; simmer 5 minutes. Cover pan, transfer to oven and bake until cooked through, about 40 to 45 minutes; remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes or so. Serve hot with couscous or pilaf.

Orange Chicken

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


1 large orange

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 chicken thighs


Preheat oven to 350 F. Grate zest of orange; remove pith and cut orange into 6 wedges. In a small bowl combine the zest, one tablespoon of the oil, the paprika, rosemary and salt and pepper. Rub chicken (including under the skin) with mixture, transfer to shallow nonreactive baking dish and tuck orange wedges among chicken pieces. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh registers 165 F, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven, let sit 5 minutes and serve with broccoli or coleslaw.