This chicken dish started out life as Nigel Slater’s chicken and basil in his book Real Food. Real Food is a great book. It’s full of Nigel’s easy, relaxed approached to food. For me, he encourages his readers to try new dishes while not being a slave to the recipe. His ingredient lists include ‘a glug of oil’ ‘a handful of basil’ leaving me feeling that if I have only a pinch of basil rather than a handful, things will still be OK. Jonathan Lovekin does his photography and to my mind is similarly talented. The book is full of wonderful photos that make you want to start cooking immediately so you can then enjoy biting into a mouth watering plate of food.
I have cooked this chicken dish for at least seven years, perhaps longer. In that time it has evolved and changed. I no longer include the basil, I always seemed to forget to add it at the right moment. I have added honey and for a long time it was lemon and honey chicken. I also slash the thighs almost through to the bone. This helps create crispy skin and speeds up the cooking. Recently I wanted to change it again and an orange and lime caught my eye in the fruit bowel. I cut those up and it became a orange, lemon, lime and honey chicken supper. The smells through our flat as the fruits cooked in the oven were amazing. Like Christmas and a summers day rolled into one. The chicken skin is crispy and golden, the flesh is moist and it has imbibed the citrus tang of the juice it’s sitting in. I like to eat the roasted lemon and lime but if that’s not to your taste, I guarantee you’ll enjoy the roasted orange. It’s worth making this just for the orange alone!
This recipe can easily be scaled up and down to feed more or less. I serve it with creamy mash and greens. If you have any left over, which we rarely do, the chicken is fabulous in sandwiches.
Orange and lemon chicken recipe:
8 chicken thighs
1 large ripe orange
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp oil
Salt and pepper
Total carbohydrate per portion – 3 g
1. Preheat the oven to 200C / 180 C fan / 395 F / Gas mark 6.
2. Take each thigh and cut away any excess skin and fat but leave a good covering of skin on the outer side.
3. On the outer side, make two deep cuts almost to the bone and at right angles to the bone.
4. Place the chicken in a large roasting tray. It’s important there is a good amount of space between each thigh so the oven heat can crisp up the skin (consider using two roasting trays).
5. Squeeze the juice from half the orange, lemon and lime. Add the oil and honey to this juice mixture. Stir well and pour over the chicken.
6. Quarter the remaining orange, lemon and lime halves and add these to the roasting tin.
7. Season generously and pop into the oven.
8. Roast for 35 – 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and the skin is crispy.
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