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This easy chicken dish puts zesty zing in spring

Recipe: Baked lemon-Dijon chicken thighs with herbs

Chicken thighs achieve crispy deliciousness when marinated and baked at high heat.

Chicken thighs achieve crispy deliciousness when marinated and baked at high heat. Debbie Arrington

Lemon, Dijon mustard and spring herbs create a flavorful marinade for this easy baked chicken dish. Lemons are still plentiful in March, when mustard is in full bloom. Lemons also are a nice complement to Dijon mustard, parsley and early-season perennial herbs such as oregano and thyme. That’s why this combination is perfect for the new season (or any time).

Chicken thighs are moist, economical and cook fast, which makes this main course ideal for weeknights, too. The chicken can marinate in the refrigerator during the day. Then pop it in the oven for dinner. The high baking temperature (425 degrees F.) crisps the chicken skin. The finishing salt gives it a little extra crunch.

Baked lemon-Dijon chicken thighs with spring herbs

Makes 3 to 4 servings


6 chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)

2 lemons

½ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Kosher or other coarse-grain salt, if desired


Trim any excess fat off of thighs. Pat dry.

Zest both lemons. Juice one lemon and reserve the other for later.

In a large bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, parsley, oregano, thyme, garlic salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Add chicken thighs to the marinade and turn to coat well. Let thighs marinate for at least 30 minutes. (If longer, cover and refrigerate while marinating, then bring to room temperature before baking.)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed sheet pan or shallow baking dish with foil or parchment paper. Make sure the dish is big enough that there’s room between each thigh.

Remove thighs from marinade and place, skin side up, on the covered pan or baking dish. Brush marinade over the top of thighs so each is well covered. Sprinkle a little kosher salt or other coarse salt over the top, if desired.

Bake at 425 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until thighs are golden brown and meat juices are clear when thighs are pierced with a thin-bladed knife.

Cut remaining lemon and squeeze over the top of thighs just before serving.


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Garden Checklist for week of April 21

This week there’s plenty to keep gardeners busy. With no rain in the immediate forecast, remember to irrigate any new transplants.

* Weed, weed, weed! Get them before they flower and go to seed.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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