Weekend recipe: Lucy’s lemon chicken

Serves 4

FOR THE ONION BASE

(Makes 12 tablespoons)

* 4 onions, chopped
* 3 sticks celery, chopped finely
* 8 cloves garlic, chopped finely
* 2 tbsp olive oil
* 2 tbsp vegetable oil
* 3 tbsp water

BASE SAUCE METHOD

1 Put onion and other ingredients into thick-bottomed saucepan and cover with tight-fitting lid.
2 Cook for 10-20 minutes, depending on quantity you are cooking. Look at the onions from time to time to check they are not catching on the bottom – you want them cooked but not browned.

FOR THE MAIN DISH

* 2 tbsp onion base (see above)
* 8 chicken thighs
* 2 tsp paprika (mild)
* 50g smoked bacon pieces
* 1 tbsp plain flour
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* 4 bricks frozen chopped spinach
* 2 tbsp lemon juice
* 1 chicken stock cube
* 1 tsp dried thyme
* 150ml white wine
* 250ml water
* 2 tbsp Puy-style lentils
* 4 sprigs fresh thyme, to serve

MAIN DISH METHOD

1 Heat oven to Gas Mark 5 (190C).
2 Rub paprika over chicken skin. Heat oil in a saucepan until hot and fry chicken pieces until well coloured. Transfer to roasting tin.


3 Add bacon to pan and cook for a minute. Lower heat and add onion base. Add a tablespoon of water, put on a lid and cook for around 10 minutes.
4 Add rest of ingredients, stir well and bring to boil. Pour everything over the chicken and cover with foil.


5 Cook for 45-60 minutes. Check chicken every 15-20 minutes as lentils will soak up liquid. There should always be cooking liquid visible, so add water if necessary.
6 Remove from oven and allow fat to come to surface. Sprinkle one tablespoon of plain flour over in a fine layer and wait for fat to absorb it. Stir through sauce and return to oven for 10-15 minutes.

7 To serve, place a pile of mash on a warmed plate and lean two pieces of chicken against each other and the potato. Spoon over the sauce and top with a sprig of thyme.

You could make this in the morning and store in the fridge until later. Simply reheat for 20 minutes at the same oven temperature.

Lucy Cufflin, who was born and lives in Leicester, has been a chef for over 20 years. Her freshly published cookbook, Lucy’s Food, is inspired by the 15 years she spent running a chalet business in the Alps.

She says: “I accumulated thousands of recipes that could be prepared ahead and finished with little effort but looked and tasted great – minimum effort, maximum effect.”

Lucy has now opened a shop at 6 Francis St, Stoneygate, Leicester, also called Lucy’s Food.

To buy Lucy’s Food the book, click here.

Matt Wright
The author:

Matt lives in Leicestershire with his wife, two kids and dog. He is passionate about British pubs, slow food and home brewing. He founded Great Food Club (originally as Great Food Magazine) in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town of Melton Mowbray - Britain's 'Rural Capital of Food'.