Lemon chicken2

I’m not a personal chef or a chef of any kind. I’m a food writer and a home cook–and a daughter who is now helping my elderly parents out with preparing meals. My mom is caring for my dad at home here in San Diego. He suffers from two forms of dementia–Alzheimer’s Disease, a memory loss condition with which you may be familiar, and Lewy Body Disease, which is less common, related to Parkinson’s, and causes him to have hallucinations; in our situation it mostly centers around his not recognizing my mom. As you can imagine, this has put a lot of stress on her, and she isn’t in the best health herself. So, I’m a caregiver, too.

And that includes doing some cooking for them so Mom can catch a break and just enjoy a meal herself. Recently, however, she suffered from a bad bout of reflux. So I needed to make two different dinners for them. I became what she had always dissed being in our household growing up: a short-order cook.

Making her dinner was easy. Plain, stripped-down skinless chicken breast baked with some cut up carrots in a little water with a smidge of salt. But I needed to be more creative for my dad, who may have memory issues but has a healthy appetite.

Recently I’ve been making them mustard chicken baked with panko. It’s easy–just slather the chicken pieces with a great mustard and roll in panko. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 375˚ for about an hour. My folks both love this dish, as do I. The mustard tenderizes and flavors the meat and the panko and olive oil create a fabulous crust. What’s not to love!

But I don’t want him to get tired of it, so I was thinking about other options. I love chicken flavored with lemon juice but I had one last ripe Meyer lemon on my tree and thought it might be interesting to chop it up and cook it with the chicken. And add artichokes. I knew I couldn’t find baby artichokes right now–this would be great with trimmed fresh baby artichokes–but I could buy frozen artichoke hearts. It all started coming together–add some shallots, fresh herbs, some wine. Find another Meyer lemon at the market. And that was it.

The result was a marvelous tangy, yet rich dish. The roasted Meyer lemon pieces contributed to the juices but were also wonderful bites, drenched in chicken juices and wine, since they don’t have the bitterness of conventional lemons. The chicken practically fell off the bone, yet the skin was crisp. And the mellowness of the artichokes and shallots complemented the bright sweet flavors coming from the lemon and wine.

I made basmati rice to accompany the dish, which was perfect because this lemon chicken creates  magnificent juices and you want a grain that will sop it all up.  And there were plenty of leftovers for a couple of days. My dad loved it. The housekeeper loved it. And my mom was rapturous over the heady aroma it produces. This goes in the rotation, especially so Mom can enjoy it later now that she’s feeling better.

Meyer lemons
Lemon Chicken with Artichoke Hearts
Serves 5 to 8

5 whole chicken legs, cut into drumsticks and thighs (trim excess fat)
1, 12-ounce bag of frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
2 Meyer lemons, washed, cut into pieces, and seeded
3 shallots, peeled and sliced
About 12 sprigs of fresh oregano and thyme
2/3 cup white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 300˚F.

Place chicken pieces skin side down in casserole in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn over and season the skin side.


In a large bowl, combine the artichoke hearts, lemon pieces, shallots, and herbs. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Mixed in the bowl
Add to the chicken, tucking into the crevices between the pieces. Keep as much of the chicken uncovered as possible. Pour the wine over the chicken mixture.

Ready for oven

Cover with foil and bake for two hours. Then increase the oven temperature to 425˚F. Remove the foil and roast uncovered for half an hour or until the skin is brown and crispy.

Serve with rice or another grain.

Lemon chicken4

What’s your go-to dish to make for a family? Are you adding caregiving activities to your your life and work? Feel free to share the challenges that brings and how you’re managing them.

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Caron Golden


Founder of premier organization of personal chefs inspires students to follow their dreams of culinary entrepreneurship.

Candy Wallace, executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), today was recognized by Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies as its 33rd Distinguished Guest Chef.

1 Comment »

  1. Avatar

    I have a jar of preserved Meyer Lemon, this would be excellent way to use them! Thanx for the inspiration!

    Comment by Chef Jim — August 18, 2015 @ 9:09 am

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