Monday, September 21, 2009

lemon crème fraîche chicken

So, Amanda Hesser. I've struggled with my feelings on this subject for some time.

Yes, I cringe at the name “Mr. Latte,” and experienced a few pricks of envy while watching this tour of her kitchen. (Really, Amanda Hesser? Is the “bane of your existence” the fact that the door of your dishwasher barely collides with your pull-out garbage bin? Really?)

But in other moments, she is the source of great joy. Take, for instance, the “Tripe Lady” photograph hanging over her kitchen table. Or her Recipe Redux column in the Times Magazine. Or the fact that every recipe of hers I’ve tried is an unequivocal success: a simple couscous salad with celery and red wine vinegar; Apician spiced dates (technically a Lupa invention, but she deserves credit for acknowledging its genius, and for printing the recipe); her famous Almond Cake (which, despite its inevitable deflated center, unites marzipan lovers everywhere).

Any one of these things would have endeared her to me forever. And then this chicken came along.

Don’t be deceived by the three-ingredient shopping list. This is an elegant dish—a testament to the transformative powers of lemon zest and crème fraîche. Swirled together with the requisite pan juices and crispy bits, they produce a rich, tangy gravy for the chicken—and a delicious sauce for bread-sopping.

Ms. Hesser, I am sorry for my inconstancy—and for that dishwasher door / garbage bin nuisance. You deserve better.

Lemon Crème Fraîche Chicken
Adapted from Amanda Hesser via The Wednesday Chef

Serves 4

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 whole chicken legs (thighs attached)
Course sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup crème fraiche

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. After 3 minutes, add the butter and oil. Season the chicken generously with salt and very generously with pepper. Place the chicken, skin side down, in the skillet and brown well on both sides, turning once.

Transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a knife.

Return the skillet to the stovetop. Transfer the chicken to a platter and keep warm. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet. Place over medium heat, add the lemon juice, and stir to scrape up any pan drippings. Simmer for 1 minute, then add the crème fraiche and stir until melted and bubbling. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with lemon zest and additional pepper. Serve hot.


  1. I'm glad you're working through this... I suppose I should work through my garbage issues as well. There are wars going on in the world, my garbage drawer/dishwasher can't be that annoying! Plus having a dishwasher is a big step up from my last kitchen.
    Where did you get your Dansk pot? I like it -- have never seen that shape.

  2. I'm hardly one to talk when it comes to kitchen grievances [she says, repentantly]. The question of where to put our rubber dishwashing gloves, for instance, frustrates me beyond reason. As I mentioned before, I think I was feeling covetous of your German egg poachers, and of your kitchen set-up in general.

    I can't take credit for the Dansk items, unfortunately; my boyfriend's grandmother bought them in Europe in the 60s. In addition to the one pictured here, there's a smaller baking dish, a stockpot, and a few other pieces that I've not seen.

    Thanks for your note. I am a big fan of your writing.

  3. Thanks for the new excuse to shop on eBay. I can't stop thinking about that pot! And thanks for your post (I haven't made that dish in so long; good reminder).

  4. I think you'll have some luck if you search for the Dansk Kobenstyle line. This looks like the one![]=tags&includes[]=title