lemon chilli chicken
Updated: Mon, 15 March, 2021
Chilli and lemon is such a wonderful combination it should be used far more than it is. And I mean serious amounts of both the lemon and the chilli.
How to cook boring chicken fillets?
I don’t like chicken breast. The Weather Man does. I’m the legs and thighs girl. The Weather Man is ‘not keen’ which in weathermanspeak means he won’t eat them (or very reluctantly). What to do?
The lovely, complaisant and generous person that I am, we eat chicken breast a lot. But I had to come up with palatable ways of cooking the birdie as the dry and stringy, bland and tasteless thing that people call roast chicken breast was simply unacceptable.
Chicken fillet matrix
This dish is another take on the creamy chicken recipe which is my kind of chicken fillet matrix dish. I cook it often, varying the add-ons.
The creamy chicken is a no-recipe recipe: cut the fillet, sear it in the pan and then throw in whatever fancy will suggest, see below, with copious amounts of cream. This time it was time for some zingy flavours: chilli and lemon.
The outcome is lovely; a curried dish for people who don’t like curry; the heat tamed by cream, the sourness balanced by the sauce. I first practised the flavour combination with fish but chicken is a better canvas being, as I already mentioned, boring and bland.
Up the heat if you like (anchos are fairly mild); peel the lemon if the skin bothers you; use tofu instead of chicken – it will still be a success.
Creamy chicken variations
I like my chicken with leeks, it is a gorgeous dish of meat plus veg in one pan. Sometimes there are far more leeks in that pan than there are chicken pieces, and I like it like that. Tho be honest, I could give away all the chicken off the pan to The Weather Man and I'd still be happy with my dinner.
I also make it with mushrooms. I'd be ecstatic to use wild, seasonal ceps, chanterelles or morels but that is possible only for about five minutes in early autumn, if I'm lucky. Otherwise the closed cup mushrooms have to do or I use dried wild mushrooms, previously re-hydrated.
And then there is spinach, which surely makes a dream pairing with chicken and not just in chicken alla fiorentina. This is slightly different, and simpler, than fiorentina. Just follow the pattern of this recipe: brown chicken and remove, cook spinach, return the chicken into the pan with lots of cream. Gorgeous!
lemon chilli chickenServings: 2Time: 20 minutes
- 3 tsp ancho chili paste or 2 dried ancho chillies
- 2 large chicken fillets
- 1 unwaxed lemon
- 1 tbsp. groundnut oil
- 2 shallots, chopped finely
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
- 120ml (½ cup) white wine
- 100ml (½ cup) double cream
1. If you have dried chillies instead of paste, make it yourself: break up the dried chillies into pieces, remove the seeds if you prefer and pour over about 60ml boiling water. Leave to soften and almost dissolve; mash it up with a spoon before using.
2. Skin the chicken fillets and cut them into thick strips. Sprinkle generously with salt and set aside.
3. Scrub the lemon, trim both ends and cut it in half across, and then each half into quarters.
4. Heat up the oil in a large pan or skillet and add the chicken pieces. Brown them on all sides and remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.
5. Add the chopped shallots to the pan followed by chopped garlic. Stir fry for a minute or two until coloured, then stir in 2 teaspoons of the chilli paste. Let it cook for half a minute and then add the lemon quarters. Add the wine and bring it to the boil.
6. Return the chicken into the pan and add the cream. Turn down the heat, stir everything well and simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens. Taste for seasoning and add more chilli paste and/or salt.
7. Let it stand for a couple of minutes before serving, with plain rice or mixed grilled vegetables.