Lemon Chicken Better Than Any Takeout

Fried chicken, crispy chicken, chicken cutlet: is there another dish so ubiquitous and yet so special? Everyone has one, yes, but everyone has their own. An 80-course Around the World cookbook could easily be filled with fried chicken recipes: Austrian cutlet, Korean fried chicken, Italian pollo fritto, Japanese tonkatsu, Milanese chicken, Chinese gong bao, Senegalese chicken yassa, fried chicken. from the south, etc. to. Fried chicken is popular around the world.

It’s easy to see why. Chicken is, for those who eat meat, accessible and affordable to cook and eat in a way that red meat isn’t always. It’s simple, often quick, and most importantly, tick the “What will everyone around the table eat?” ” box. And that’s it before it’s even fried.

In the world of things that can be marinated, coated and fried, chicken is hard to beat. Once crispy and tender, chicken is the dish that holds so many events together

In the world of things that can be marinated, coated and fried, chicken is hard to beat. Once crispy and tender, chicken is the dish that hosts so many events. Whether it’s a plate passed around a small family dinner or a plate slipped into the neck of a chain of restaurants, there’s a good chance there’s chicken on it.

Behind every fried or crispy chicken recipe hides a story. Books are devoted to tracing the roots and politics of southern fried chicken, the role slavery played in its history, and the racist stereotypes that accompanied it.

The name of a chicken dish can change and in so doing say a lot about its time. This was the case with gong bao ji ding, the Chinese dish of chicken with peanuts, named after the late 19th century governor of Sichuan Ding Baozhen, whose official title was Gongbao. Its association with the dish led radicals in the Cultural Revolution to change the name of the dish to hong bao ji ding – cubes of fried chicken. It remained that way until the 1980s.

Sliced ​​lemon for the cheater’s candied lemon paste, and the lemon sauce

Or the story may be that of movement, the journey of a dish within a single family, where the same secret recipe is kept and passed down from generation to generation. History and politics, time and place: these are all great stories in which fried chicken plays a small but real role.

Rather prosaically, the story can also be about what is on the shelf and in the cupboards that needs to be eaten on a weekday evening. This is certainly the case for me when I cook crispy chicken at home. Immigrants from Central Europe who came to Israel during the 20th century made chicken schnitzel a standard weekday dish in most Israeli homes. The schnitzel (and an almost obligatory chopped salad and a bowl of fries) that was served almost every time I stayed for dinner at a friend’s house is what comes to mind when I open the fridge and cupboard for the having dinner.

And then there are the stories and memories of fried chicken eaten with friends and strangers on my travels in Asia and back to London, including the westernized Chinese lemon chicken that I often base my own version on.

In addition to these memories, I have the ingredients that occupy a permanent residence on my shelves, which I look for every time I cook: fresh and candied lemon, cumin seeds and coriander, butter and broth, soy sauce and eggs. The result is a fast food dinner with a long, rich history: delicious enough to keep my kids at the table long enough that I can actually tell them some of the stories.

Double lemon chicken from Yotam Ottolenghi

Double lemon chicken from Yotam Ottolenghi


The universally loved crispy chicken, from Austrian cutlets and Korean fried chicken to western lemon chicken that you will get at your local Chinese restaurants, can be found in many corners of the world and therefore served at many tables. This lemon chicken is the inspiration for this dish, where a sweet lemon sauce coats crispy fried chicken pieces. This Middle Eastern version uses a paste of candied lemon from a cheater and lots of fresh lemon to brighten it up. You will make a little more candied lemon paste than necessary; use it for dressing, toss it with roasted vegetables or toss it into soups. Serve this dish with lightly cooked green vegetables and plain white rice.

For four persons

Total duration: 1 hour 15 minutes

For the chicken
2 medium egg whites (about 60g, save the yolks for another use)
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
Salt and black pepper
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
80 ml of neutral oil, such as sunflower oil
1 spring onion, trimmed and thinly sliced ​​on the bias
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped coriander leaves
2 tablespoons of lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)

For the cheater’s candied lemon paste
1 large lemon, unwaxed (or well cleaned), ends cut and discarded, then ½ cm thick slices, seeds removed
60 ml lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
2 teaspoons of puffed sea salt

For the lemon sauce
700 ml chicken broth
1½ tablespoons / 25 g unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon of powdered sugar or granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1½ teaspoons of cumin seeds, roasted and coarsely crushed in a mortar and pestle
1½ tablespoons of cornstarch
2 tablespoons of lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
Salt and black pepper

Prepare the chicken: In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, soy sauce, cornstarch, ½ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper until there are no more lumps , about 30 seconds. Working one breast at a time, place the chicken between two pieces of parchment paper and use a meat mallet (or the bottom of a saucepan) to pound the chicken evenly so that it is barely 1 cm thick. Transfer the egg whites to the bowl and continue with the rest. Gently toss everything to coat and refrigerate to marinate for at least an hour (or overnight if you go ahead).

2 Meanwhile, prepare the candied lemon paste: add all the ingredients in a small saucepan with a lid over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the crust begins to appear translucent and the juice has reduced to about half. Let cool slightly, then transfer everything to a small food processor and mix until you obtain a smooth and spreadable paste. (You should have about 1/4 cup.) Set aside 3 tablespoons for the sauce, then store the rest in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

3 Prepare the sauce: add the 3 tablespoons of candied lemon paste, the broth, butter, garlic, sugar, turmeric and half the cumin in a medium saucepan, then place it on medium-high heat . Bring to a boil, then cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until reduced by about one-third. Measure about 3 tablespoons of the sauce in a small bowl, then add the cornstarch and whisk until there are no more lumps. Whisk it in the saucepan and cook for 1 minute, whisking continuously, until smooth and slightly thickened. Remove from fire.

4 Heat oil in a large, high-sided pan over medium-high heat. Once hot (a pinch of cornstarch poured into the oil should sizzle right away), fry two of the chicken breasts for 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown and just cooked through. . It should come off the pan easily with a little help of a metal spatula. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and continue with the 2 remaining breasts. He might spit, so lower the heat if necessary. Wipe out the pan, add the sauce and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Return all the chicken breasts and cook for just 3 minutes, turning them gently halfway through cooking. Remove from the heat and stir in the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

5 Transfer the chicken breasts (cut them into strips, if desired) to a large serving dish with a lip and pour the sauce all over. Sprinkle with the remaining cumin. In a small bowl, combine the spring onion, cilantro and the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and pour over everything. – This article originally appeared in The New York Times

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