Israeli Lemon Chicken ~~ Everyday Easy or Company Fancy
Most Recipes Have a History
My youngest brother married a woman named Maggie. Although my children were much older that their children we became good friends and spent a great deal of time together. We also belonged to the same small inter-denominational church for about fifteen years. Before she married my brother Maggie was an elementary school teacher. Not from a political viewpoint, but simply as a Christian, Maggie had a "heart for Israel." If you don't know what I mean by that, I don't know how to explain it any better.
When Maggie quit teaching to stay home with her children, she began teaching Sunday School at our church and my three sons were in her class. Maggie believed that as Christians we should remember that the Hebrews were God's chosen people, that Judaism is the parent religion of Christianity, that we share an enormous body of Holy Scripture with the Jewish people, and that Jesus was an observant Jew. So one of Maggie's goals in Sunday School, and with her extended family, was to convey those truths along with the more traditional Bible stories of Noah, King David, Moses, Queen Esther, and Elijah.
Maggie involved our family and her Sunday School students in a number of Jewish- Christian celebrations. We celebrated Passover as a family for many years and we celebrated Israeli Day at church for the students and their parents. I supported all of Maggie's celebrations and projects and often helped with the cooking. There were many "good" recipes, but one "great" recipe that my sons have asked for over and over. I got the recipe from Maggie and I have tinkered with it a little -- so I guess it really should be called "Maggie's and Theresa's Israeli Lemon Chicken." Enjoy!
What You Will Need to Have on Hand
6 chicken breasts or 8 thighs or 10 drumsticks
1/4 - 1/2 cup melted butter / margarine / olive oil (1/2 if chicken is skinless, otherwise 1/4) -- I happen to prefer using a good quality aromatic olive oil, for its health benefits and flavor.
2 - 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp. parsley
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp black or white pepper (your preference)
3 - 4 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup uncooked rice
2 cups liquid, white wine or water or 1 cup of each
1 jar or can of pearl onions with liquid
Preparation and Cooking Directions
Start preheating your oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients (including the rice) except the pieces of chicken and the melted butter. Stir gently, but stir well. Pour mixture into the bottom of a flat glass or aluminum baking pan that has been generously sprayed with Pam or a generic equivalent. Stir gently to make sure the rice is well distributed.
Gently lay the chicken pieces on top of the rice / onion / wine mixture. Drizzle the melted butter across the chicken and rice. Seal the baking pan tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for one hour. Set the oven timer and go do something else -- read a book, weed in your garden, play with your children, work on that sewing project, take a nap. :)
When the timer goes of remove the foil carefully - you may need to reuse it. (My maternal grandmother would wash, dry, fold up, and reuse her foil four or five times before she threw it away. When times were particularly tight I reused my foil as well, still occasionally do even though I can now afford to be profligate with my Reynold's Wrap.) Gently stir the rice and onions to redistribute the remaining liquid. Next comes the tricky part where you will have to use your own judgement.
Here goes: (1) If the rice has absorbed almost all the liquid or is almost dry, turn the oven down to 300 degrees, reseal the pan tightly with foil and bake for another 45 minutes. (2) If there is a lot of liquid left in the pan leave the foil off, leave the temperature alone, and return the pan to the oven for 45 to 60 minutes. (3) If there is some liquid left, but not too much, then reduce the heat 25 degrees and lay the foil loosely over the pan before returning it to the oven for 45-60 minutes. In all three cases, check the chicken and rice at 30 and 45 minutes and adjust the foil as needed to end up with well-cooked chicken, but slightly moist rice and onions.
Weekday or Company Meal
Don't forget to remove the bay leaf before serving. This is a wonderful weeknight dinner with a hearty salad. However, if you work full time like I do, you might want to throw this together and bake it Sunday evening, refrigerate it, and then reheat in a very slow oven for Monday night's dinner or it makes a great Saturday or Sunday dinner.
The recipe can be easily doubled, but you might want to watch the heat and fluid absorption a little more closely. If you are having company, add your favorite green vegetable - asparagus, baby brussell sprouts, green beans with slivered almonds, or baby peas and carrots. Add your favorite fruit salad and a crusty loaf of bread or croissants and everyone will be pleased. Happy cooking and entertaining.
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