November 23, 2018

Cast Iron Citrus Chicken

Posted in: Body

One of the best things about the farmer’s market is, without question, the ability to interact with the farmers and vendors. To shake the hand that helped produce and harvest your food is to bring back the human connection we have lost through big supermarkets.

This weekend, as I wound around the aisles drifting from one scent to the next, I was stopped by mounds of freshly picked oranges, lemons, and grapefruits. Standing behind the boxes with a friendly grin on his face was Mike, son of the owner of Triple “J” Certified Organic Farm.

As we struck up a conversation, I learned that he hauled those babies all the way from Mission, Texas, where he now works alongside his parents after quitting his job as an assistant principle. I asked him why the oranges looked yellow and the lemons looked green, to which he laughed and explained that there haven’t been enough consecutive cold days to produce the pigment we’re used to. But nevertheless, the flavor is all there.

Though supermarkets source their produce from all parts of the world to keep their shelves stocked year round, local citrus is at its peak in the dead of winter. Mike and his family have worked hard to meet the standards for organic produce, and all of their produce is brushed and cleaned, never waxed.

He also told me about the phenomenon that is “Texas Ruby Red Grapefruits.” According to Mike, there’s nothing like them anywhere else but here. The tart fruit that typically has to be drowned in sugar to swallow is delightfully sweet in season. He told me about a pie that his mom always makes with fresh grapefruit and strawberries without having to use any extra sugar.

I asked him what prompted him to make the switch from school administration to farm work, and he said he truly just loves the opportunity to spend time with his family every day and connect with so many different people at farmer’s markets. Plus, the farm definitely benefitted from his ability to “execute” as a former assistant principle. Someone has to keep those lemons in line…

So here’s what we’re working with… I wanted to create a dish that was simple enough to make on a weeknight, but pretty enough to serve for a dinner party. I wanted something that used minimal dishes and felt warm and rustic.
There are few things that feel as cozy and “homecooked” than a cast-iron skillet meal. And it’s the perfect post-thanksgiving dish because even though it feels like comfort food, it’s nice and light with the veggies and citrus. So have your cake-well, chicken-and eat it, too.
Cast Iron Citrus Chicken
Ingredients:
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 red onion
  • 3-4 chicken thighs (with or without legs)
  • olive oil (I used Meyer Lemon infused oil from the Market)
  • salt + pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus more springs for roasting
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 cup pitted kalamata olives (any olives work)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, smashed

To Prepare:
Oil a large cast iron skillet and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Take the fennel bulb and cut in half lengthwise, cut a “v” shape to remove the core, and slice the bulb on the diagonal. Cut the red onion into 1 inch cubes and add to the pan along with the fennel slices. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Slice the oranges and lemons 1/4 inch thick and arrange half of them on top of the fennel and onion, saving some to top the chicken.
Pat the chicken thighs dry and add on top of the fennel and onion. rub the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and chopped fresh thyme. Arrange the remaining lemon and orange slices around and partially covering the chicken. Add a pinch more salt and pepper to the dish and sprinkle over the kalmata olives and smashed garlic cloves. Add a few sprigs of thyme right on top. Roast in the oven for about 50 minutes to an hour, rotating halfway through to ensure even browning. The chicken skin should be golden brown and crispy, and vegetables should be tender. Remove the lemons before serving. Oranges are edible!
Optional: Perfect with a simple side like my Savory Arugula Salad!

  1. Nathan Bywater

    February 22nd, 2019 at 3:33 am

    I was looking for new, healthier recipes when I found your website. I tried this dish at home first and loved it. Then I put it to a real test and cooked it for the crew at my fire station. Had to double the portions, but they loved it too. Thanks for posting the recipe and keep up the good work. I will continue to try your concoctions.

  2. Stevi Perkins

    February 22nd, 2019 at 5:44 am

    Nathan-
    Can’t tell you how excited I am that you enjoyed the recipe and shared with your team at the fire station! Makes my heart glad to know these recipes are bringing people together. Thank you for the feedback, and please let me know which other ones you try!
    -Stevi

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