Chicken in Lemon Sauce with Olives is an easy meal bursting with the vibrant flavors of the Mediterranean.
Imagine perfectly roasted chicken, thighs and breasts, nestled in a silky lemon sauce, dotted with blue-black olives and a shower of fresh picked thyme. If you lived in Greece or Tuscany or you could do this in your sleep, and I swear it’s so easy that by the end of this post you’ll be able to do it in your sleep, too. But stay awake — you don’t want to miss a single bite!
This quintessentially Greek lemon sauce has starred in several of my recipes before, and I highly recommend giving them all a try~
The sauce stands out because while it’s thick and ‘creamy’, the base is just chicken stock that’s been enriched and thickened with egg yolk and lemon juice — there’s no dairy or flour in it, and the texture is sublime. The lemon flavor is bright and vivid, and unlike a lot of sauces, this one is super simple to do.
I chose breasts and thighs for our meal, but any chicken parts will work, and you can choose bone-in or boneless. For this recipe I prefer the skin on and I bake it separately in the oven, first. When I present the dish I make sure not to immerse the chicken completely in the sauce so it stays nice and crispy.
The lemon sauce is without question the highlight of this meal. I think you could leave out the chicken entirely and I wouldn’t complain ;)
- 4 chicken thighs, skin on
- 2 small chicken breasts, skin on
- olive oil for brushing
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, strained
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup black olives (I used oil cured)
- fresh thyme leaves
- Set oven to 400F
- Arrange the chicken pieces in an oiled baking pan and brush liberally with olive oil. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper and bake for about 35 minutes, or until done through. Baste several times during the cooking, and finish under the broiler if you need more color.
- While the chicken is cooking, whisk the egg yolks in a bowl and add the lemon juice. Set aside.
- Heat the chicken stock to boiling in a saucepan, and then add about 1/2 cup of the hot stock to the egg yolk mixture, adding it in a slow stream, while whisking. This will get the yolks' temperature up without scrambling them. Then add that back into the pan with the rest of the chicken stock, and heat gently on medium, stirring constantly, until the mixture just begins to get silky and thicken. Don't bring it to a boil, or even a simmer. Remove from heat.
- Pour the sauce on the bottom of a casserole bit enough to hold all the chicken. Arrange the cooked chicken on top of the sauce. Scatter the olives and thyme over everything and serve right away.
- This Chicken in Lemon Sauce with Olives isn’t exactly a 30-minute meal, but it’s darned close. Get the oven preheating right away and you can have this on the table in 40 minutes. We served it with quick cooking couscous and pan roasted asparagus.
- If for any reason your sauce curdles slightly, just strain it. But you shouldn’t have any trouble if you keep your heat moderate and stir or whisk constantly.
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