I adapted this crispy lemon chicken thigh recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook. It’s full of lemon flavor from lemon juice, lemon pepper, and lemon zest. The lemon is balanced by brown sugar for sweetness and a bit of paprika for a hint of bite. You can eat it hot, or cold for lunch the next day. It’s also good for picnics while the weather is still good.
I cut the original recipe down to serve one (instead of six), but also made a few other small changes. The cookbook recipe called for lemon extract. It’s an ingredient I’m never going to use up (unless I make lots of lemon chicken). So, I increased the lemon juice a bit.
I then swapped the plain black pepper for lemon pepper. Lemon pepper is a bit exotic, but I do use it for other things (try it on string beans or broccoli). This way, I kept the lemony flavor without having to buy a special ingredient only to use a spoonful or two (which annoys me).
You end up with a crispy crust, almost like fried chicken, except there’s very little oil, less mess, and you can bake it in the toaster oven.
Incidentally, the recipe on the facing page of the cookbook is for Chicken Monterey, made with orange juice. I haven’t done it, but I bet orange juice and zest would work for this too. You might try a bit of orange juice concentrate, or upping the zest to substitute for lemon pepper/extract. I’d also reduce the brown sugar, since orange is sweeter than lemon.
Crispy lemon chicken thigh recipe with three kinds of lemon, plus brown sugar.
1 chicken thigh
2 T lemon juice
1 heaping T flour
generous pinch of salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp lemon pepper
2 T neutral oil (such as canola or sunflower)
1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest
1/2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp chicken stock
one slice lemon
Pour the lemon juice in a bowl and add the chicken. This is best if you let it sit in the fridge overnight (or do it in the morning). If not, let it sit for half an hour.
Preheat the toaster oven to 350 degrees.
Discard the lemon juice and dry off the chicken with a paper towel.
Take a small plastic zippered bag and add the dry ingredients (flour, salt, paprika, and lemon pepper). Add the chicken to the bag, zip it shut, and shake thoroughly until the chicken is completely covered with the flour mixture.
Heat the oil in a small skillet and fry the chicken (turning once with kitchen tongs) until it gets brown and crispy. This should take about 10 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the skillet and place it on the toaster oven tray. Sprinkle it with the lemon zest and the brown sugar.
Pour the chicken stock around the chicken (not over it). Put the lemon slice on top.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
I served this with a baked potato, so I put that in the oven first, while the chicken sat in the lemon juice.