When dinner has to be quick-and-easy, I don’t usually think of baked chicken. But this recipe fits the bill. You can make it in less than an hour and most of that time the chicken bakes unattended. The dish requires few ingredients and it is delicious cold if there are leftovers.
If those attributes aren’t enough, baked lemon tarragon chicken is a budget meal too. I made enough for 4 people for about $8, including the price of the seasonings. With rice and a salad, this meal costs less per serving than a Chipotle chicken burrito, a McDonald’s McChicken meal, or a grilled chicken sandwich at Potbelly Sandwich Shop. And it tastes a heck of a lot better too!
As you are making this recipe, remember the chicken basics, especially rules #1-7 and #10. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to handling poultry.
Lemon Tarragon Chicken
Serves 4 (2 pieces each) Cost – $8 total/$2 per serving
- 8 pieces of chicken thighs and/or drumsticks (dark meat)
- 1-2 tablespoons of oil, preferably olive, or cooking spray
- 1-2 lemons (depending on size) yielding about 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of dried tarragon
- 2-3 tablespoons of melted butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Large baking sheet with rimmed sides
- Paper towel (unless using cooking spray)
- Small ramekin or bowl (for butter)
- Small food brush or spoon
- Small knife
- Cheesecloth (optional)
- Tongs or fork
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Either spray the baking sheet with oil or spread a very light film of oil with a paper towel.
- Place the chicken pieces on the baking sheet, skin side up in the case of the thighs. This recipe is intended for thighs and drumsticks. If you have breast halves with ribs (white meat) or leg quarters (legs and thighs in a single piece), either cut them in half using a large, sharp knife on a cutting board or cook them for longer. If you are using pieces without skin the recipe will still work, but the pieces won’t brown and obviously you won’t get crispy skin.
- Melt the butter. I did it in the microwave, taking care not to put the microwave on too high or set it for too long. About 1 minute on mid-level power worked for me, but the length of time and power setting depend on the power of your microwave.
- Brush the chicken pieces with the melted butter.
- Cut the lemon(s) in half. If you want to avoid needing to pick out (or up) the seeds, wrap the lemon half in cheesecloth before you squeeze it over the chicken pieces.
- Lightly salt and pepper each piece, then take the dried tablespoon of tarragon in your hand, crush it some more and sprinkle the dried herb over the chicken pieces.
- Bake the chicken pieces for 40-50 minutes, checking before taking them out to make sure they are fully cooked. The pieces won’t brown until close to the end of the baking time and if you want the legs to brown on all sides, you’ll need to turn them over close to the end.
Serve with rice and a salad.