Lemon Pepper Chicken with Caramelized Leek Risotto

Lemon is one of those ingredients I especially like working with in the springtime. It adds such a freshness to dishes and brightens the flavor as well. With lemon on sale, I bought quite a few and made this Lemon Pepper Chicken with Caramelized Leek Risotto for dinner. The lemon pepper flavor was definitely the star of the chicken dish and it paired so nicely with an easy caramelized leek risotto. It was delicious and perfect for an easy springtime dinner...

Lemon is such a great ingredient. You can use the juice and the zest in the same recipe to really bring out it's wonderful fresh flavor. This chicken dish has a simple lemon pepper marinade using olive oil, lemons, garlic, salt and pepper - how easy is that? After marinating the chicken breasts for 15 minutes, it's ready for a quick sear and then it's finished off in the oven to roast until done. You can use other cuts of chicken as well if you don't have chicken breasts on hand. And if you're lucky enough to have great weather to use a grill, the chicken is delicious grilled too! I roasted my chicken breasts and served them along side roasted asparagus and caramelized leek risotto (recipe follows.)

Lemon Pepper Chicken
recipe from Rachel Ray

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 lemons, divided
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely grated
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 450ºF.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the 1/4 cup of olive oil, zest and juice of 1 lemon, garlic and black pepper.

Season the chicken well with salt and toss into the bowl. Marinate the chicken for 15 minutes.

Place a large, cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, about 2 tablespoons. Sear the chicken, meat side-down until golden brown, about 5 minutes, then turn over and transfer the pan to the oven. Roast until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Squeeze the juice of the remaining lemon over the cooked chicken. 

Caramelized Leek Risotto
recipe from Daily Unadventures in Cooking

2 tablespoons butter
1 large leek
salt and pepper
3/4 cup arborio rice
3/4 cup white wine
3-4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon freshly minced parsley

Trim off the dark green part of leek and cut in half lengthwise then into 1/3″ half moons. Place chopped leeks in a bowl of cold water and swish around to remove any debris. It's important to clean the leeks thoroughly! Strain the leeks through a colander and set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot melt butter over medium heat, add leeks and stir to coat. Cook leeks until they start to brown while stirring every few minutes to prevent burning. Be patient as it may take up to 30 minutes to get them nice and caramelized.

Sprinkle the leeks with salt and pepper and then add the arborio rice. Stir to coat and cook until they start to toast a bit.

Add wine and continue stirring until two thirds of the wine has evaporated. Start adding chicken stock  just to cover the leek and rice mixture and reduce heat to a medium low simmer. Stir and allow the rice to absorb the stock. When the stock is mostly absorbed, continue adding more stock to cover the mixture and repeat stirring and reducing. Continue to add stock until the rice is tender and just a little bit al dente. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Season to taste and serve warm with a sprinkling of cheese if desired.

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