Recipes > Lemon Chicken w/ Pine Nuts & Olives

Lemon Chicken W/ Pine Nuts & Olives


Lemon and chicken are best friends in this recipe and they take pine nuts, olives, and cilantro along for a tasty ride.
  • Serves: 4
  • Active Time: 1 hr 30 mins
  • Total Time: 5 hrs - 12 hrs
  • Views: 66,280
  • Success Rating: 94% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog


Step 1: Marinating the Chicken

Marinating the Chicken
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 whole lemon (zest of)
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 whole chicken legs (backbone attached)


To marinate the chicken, pour the olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes and lemon zest into a large dish and stir to combine.

Prepare the chicken by first cutting off the backbone. Set the bones aside. Trim off any excess fat from the chicken and discard. Using the heel of a heavy knife, cut the bones into 2" -inch pieces. Refrigerate all of the bones for making the short stock later.

Coat the chicken in the marinade. Cover and place into the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or preferably overnight.

Step 2: Preparing the Short Stock

Preparing the Short Stock
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 rib celery
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 leek
  • 1/3 head garlic
  • 1/2 lb chicken bones (or use backbone attached to chicken legs)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1/4 bunch parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns


To prepare the short shock, start by roughly chopping the celery, carrots and onion. Clean and roughly chop the leek and set everything aside.

Heat a medium pot over high heat. Once hot, add the oil, followed by the bones. Let cook for a few minutes, without touching them, until you get a nice golden color. Be careful when turning, as the fat may splatter up. Let the bones caramelize on the other side. Then add the vegetables and garlic cloves. Let the vegetables cook for a few minutes. Once they start to color and soften, deglaze with the white wine. Once the wine has reduced, add the water, parsley, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring this to a very gentle boil, then turn down and let simmer for about an hour.

For a nice, clear stock, skim off any impurities while it’s gently simmering. Make sure the stock doesn’t boil.

Step 3: Cooking the Chicken

Cooking the Chicken
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • kosher salt (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil


Preheat your oven to 350° degrees Fahrenheit. Place the pine nuts onto a tray and toast until golden, about 4 to 6 minutes. Once the pine nuts are done, set them aside and turn the oven up to 375° degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat a large, oven-proof fry pan over high heat. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Once the pan is hot, add the oil, and place the chicken skin-side down. Fry the chicken on the first side until golden brown. You may need to turn the heat down slightly. Season the backside with salt and pepper and once the chicken has nice color, turn it over. Place into the oven to finish cooking for approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

Step 4: Mise en Place for the Sauce

Mise en Place for the Sauce
  • 5 tbsp onion
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • 1/3 cup green olives


To prepare the mise en place for the sauce, first grate the onion. By grating the onion, it will easily dissolve into the sauce. Grate the ginger right over the onion. Next, émincé the garlic. Remove the pits from the olives and slice. Set everything aside, while you check the chicken.

Step 5: Finishing the Chicken and Making the Sauce

Finishing the Chicken and Making the Sauce
  • 2 cups short stock (or dark chicken stock)
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 lemon (juice of)
  • 1 tbsp (heaping) honey
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • kosher salt (to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)


Strain the stock and skim off any excess fat from the top, if there is any. Discard most of the fat from the fry pan. Place the pan over medium heat and add the onion, ginger and garlic. Scrape up any bits from the bottom and let cook for a few minutes or until soft and translucent.

Add the saffron and lemon juice. Let this reduce for a minute or so, again scraping up any bits. Add the chicken stock and let simmer until it has reduced by about half. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes.

Roughly chop the cilantro. Once the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly, add the honey, olives and pine nuts. Turn off the heat and add the butter. Taste for seasoning and add the chopped cilantro just before you are ready to serve.

Chef's Notes

The short stock for this recipe is super easy and will add great flavor to this dish. If you don’t have the time to make it, you can use a pre-made stock and omit Step 2. For an even richer short stock, you could use chicken stock instead of water.


  • Liz S
    Liz S
    I enjoyed this dish. It was very economical as 6 legs with back on was only $6.00. It was a bit time consuming with making the stock but very satisfying making it from "scratch". Unfortunately I only had time to marinate for 2 hours and next time will marinate overnight. I left out the olives as my family doesn't like them but end result was great with a lemony taste and complex sauce. I am ashamed to admit that despite your warning of the handle being hot coming out of the oven, that I did grab it on the stove without a cloth. I'm sure I won't make that mistake again and promptly put an oven mitt on the handle!
  • Sandra R
    Sandra R
    I made this dish for a quiet little Thanksgiving with my boyfriend. I haven't used saffron in a while and particularly enjoyed it in the combination with pine nuts. However, I was hoping for a more complex taste for the sauce. While cilantro, olives, saffron, and pine nuts make for an interesting combination, the flavors didn't fuse as harmoniously as I anticipated. It seemed to me, that especially the olives neither blended in nor stood out and ended up being somewhat distracting. Next time I will perhaps omit the olives, add some more lemon zest to the sauce, and a good tablespoon of creme fraiche. I might also add a tablespoon of fig or apricot jam to enhance the fruitiness.
  • Brenda L
    Brenda L
    Perfect Dish. Did it just like recommended, one of the Best dishes I have ever made and my favorite Rouxbe RCP I've made so far! I wouldn't change one thing in this recipe, including the olives,which my Husband thinks he doesn't like. A masterful layering of flavor !
  • George C
    George C
    My son has an allergy to nuts. Would it hurt the dish to leave them out, or is there something I can substitute instead?
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi George- Does your son have an allergy to all nuts or pine nuts in particular? You can certainly omit them if there are no safe alternatives or you can use a seed (i.e sunflower) if you still want the texture that pine nuts would provide. It would yield a different flavor, of course, so it's up to you if you want to omit or substitute for a safe alternative. Good luck and let us know what you think. Enjoy!
  • George C
    George C
    It is all nuts according to the doctor when he was tested. They think he may outgrow it, but he does not want to try nuts yet. I will try it without the pine nuts, Thank you for the response!
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    If you don't want to use nuts at all, as we mentioned it is perfectly fine to leave them out entirely. However, if you still want to add something to replace the pine nuts, you could add a small amount of golden raisins. Of course the texture and flavor will be totally than the pine nuts, but it would still be nice. Hope that helps. Cheers!
  • Wrk N
    Wrk N
    Greetings All, I too have an allergy to nuts ..... ALL NUTS. After some reading found out that pinenuts are seeds. I have eaten them with no problems.. i. e. wheezing, swelling, itching or trip to the emergency room. But this can get tricky when eating pesto out. .... Walnuts vs pinenuts But I would still advise caution
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    HI- Regarding allergies, it is best to use caution. Peanuts are not botanically "nuts" either (they are legumes), but many people who are allergic to them also have "tree nut" allergies. Coconuts are also technically seeds, but comparatively few people have a coconut allergy when compared to other allergies, but nonetheless the incidence of lesser known allergies (like sesame and coconut) is increasing.
  • Marilyn
    Can I use Greek olives for this? I have some leftover form a salad I made.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Of course you can, not a problem. Any substitution changes the essence of a dish, but this will work out just fine. I hope this helps!
  • Jim R
    Jim R
    When I first looked at this recipe I thought it was very involved, but it looked so-o-o good that I just had to try it. It was supprisingly easy and very tasty. I made the short stock first thing in the morning, strained it and let it sit. While the stock was simmering, I marinated the chicken. everything took me about 1 3/4 hours for the first time. Then started cooking the chicken and sinishing the sauce at 5 pm. Sat down to eat at 6 pm. Wasn't nearly as bad as I thought! I substituted chopped walnuts for the pine nuts and I used our homemade pickled olives. I think I would use regular olives as the vinegar was slightly strong in the dish. When I tasted the sauce, all I could think of was "lemon explosion", but after adding the honey, it tamed the lemon down to a very delightful flavor. This will definately be made again. Excellent flavors!
  • Gregory O
    Gregory O
    For me this recipe seemed somewhat task demanding in assembling. There was lots to do in a short time! I complicated things by deciding to cook the suggested polenta recipe for the first time too. I learned, at least for me, preparing a more complicated recipe for the first time one should concentrate on that single recipe. Then maybe, with some experience, go ahead and add other new dishes or tasks the second time. When shopping for all the ingredients, I also learned saffron is more expensive than gold! The supplier kept it locked up behind the counter! It did add an interesting flavor to the sauce and made for some great dinner conversation too!
  • Cassie V
    Cassie V
    What can I serve this dish with?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    This dish goes particularly well with soft polenta and a nice green vegetable such as sautéed rapini — but honestly, this chicken dish would go well with any number of sides. Cheers!
  • Matthew C
    Matthew C
    ...I tasted the sauce throughout the process, and wasn't impressed. With each addition, up to and including the cilantro at the end, I thought it was a weird and disjointed combination of flavours. I had decided this was the first Rouxbe recipe that didn't end up delivering, and I texted my girlfriend to tell her she might want to order a pizza. Then I tasted the completed dish. Holy crap. Absolutely delicious. Somehow, when it all comes together, it works amazingly well. I used homemade brown chicken stock, and because I didn't have enough stock for the soft polenta, I just made white rice. I did put two green cardamom pods and a star anise in the water during cooking, and it complimented the dish quite well.
  • Tiffanie B
    Tiffanie B
    I bought 2 whole chickens, cut them up and just made regular stock. Then used some stock for the polenta. I made a baked cheese version with Parmesan cheese. I grow Meyer lemons and they are much larger than store lemons so I had to guess how much lemon juice to use. I used too much but it was still very good. The rest of the stock (and breasts) made 2 batches of chicken noodle soup and the wings were frozen for another use later. Overall, this was a fun recipe to try and delicious. We will be making it again. I also served it with a side of oven roasted asparagus. My husband keeps talking about how good it was and loved taking some to work the next day for lunch.
  • Sergio M
    Sergio M
    I made the recipe last night, also with roasted tomatoes and the soft polenta. It was really fantastic. Perhaps I should have reduced the sauce a bit longer, as it felt somewhat less viscous than the one in the video when spreading through the plate. I saw a comment above with a similar experience to mine: when I added the lemon the sauce became too acid and I was afraid I ruined it. However, after adding the honey, the flavours really came together. It reminded me of my grandma's remedy for sore throat, which was just lemon and honey. It made me wonder: can we generally use this trick of adding honey to soften acid flavours? Is there any other sugary ingredient we can use instead of honey, or is it something specific about it?
  • Eric W Rouxbe Staff
    Eric W
    Sergio, generally sweetness balances sourness, so consider any ingredient that lends sweetness.
  • Sunnie S
    Sunnie S
    Tried this one along with the short stock (as part of the Pro Cook course - stock lesson). Learning about short stock (why it exists and when it is used) was very interesting. I used water to make this short stock as I wanted to see how much flavor was imparted, even with the short cook time for the stock. I was impressed! It tasted pretty close to the dark chicken stock I had made a few days back! I only marinated the chicken for 3 hours (as that was all the time I had). I got a great sear and nice, brown skin in the pan and then roasted for 25 minutes in the oven. I let the chicken rest for 15 minutes while I prepared the sauce. The chicken was perfectly cooked; extremely moist and juicy. I always struggle getting the perfect temperature on chicken, so I was very proud of myself! I too, was a bit skeptical about this sauce as there just seemed to be a lot going on in it, however, I loved it (and so did my husband). It was so interesting and complex and like nothing we had ever had before! I kept my sauce a bit loose as I served the chicken over brown rice (I wanted the rice to soak up a bit of the sauce) and roasted asparagus. Fantastic meal! A bit labor intensive for sure (with the short stock), but totally worth it!
  • Char N Rouxbe Staff
    Char N
    Hi Sunnie! Excellent experience in the kitchen! An organized mise en place is the best tool for reaching the objectives of a recipe, and it sounds as though this meal was a great success for you! This recipe may end up on the table for a delicious event or gathering. Keep cooking! Nice work! Thanks for writing, Char
  • W J
    W J
    Can the butter be simply left out, or replaced with a dairy-free substitute? What do you recommend?
  • Sandy S
    Sandy S
    Hi WJ, you can omit the butter, though it will have and effect on the texture (and flavor) of the final sauce. If you would like, you could use a non-dairy substitute, or add a bit of olive oil at the end to enrich the mouthfeel. Hope that helps! Cheers, Sandy

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