Lime Chicken Part 1

As I wrote on Wednesday, inspiration can come from strange sources: but sometimes it doesn't come at all. Struggling a little for this week's Tom Cooks! I remembered a lemon chicken recipe sent to me by my excellent friend, licensing lawyer extraordinaire, JH. Rereading it, I remembered why I had left it to one side. I could cope with the whole head of garlic - that calms itself down in the cooking - but the heat? Three chillies, one of them a Scotch Bonnet AND 3 (yes three) teaspoons of Cayenne pepper. (Bear in mind, dear readers, that at 30 - 50,000 Scoville units, cayenne is 12 times hotter than a jalapeno.) So, fearing litigation, I moved on.

Having a bowlful of green citrus, I decided on another adaptation, and have found two very different chicken and lime recipes for your delectation. This week's is a Lady Claire Macdonald special. Delicious but rich. My only quibble is that Claire specifies "6 chicken joints" which, she says, will feed 6 people. Not in my house they wouldn't. I reproduce her recipe as is, but I

Claire Macdonald

would allow 2 chicken thighs per person.

Many thanks again, m'lady, for your permission to reproduce your work.

Claire Macdonald's Lime Baked Chicken with Tarragon Sauce


For the chicken

6 chicken joints; 2 limes** (you'll use the rind for the garnish, and the juice for the sauce); 75g butter; a few sprigs of tarragon; s & p.

For the sauce

300ml single cream; 50g butter; 1 tsp flour; 3 egg yolks; a few more sprigs of tarragon; juice of 2 limes** (the same ones you zested earlier); s & p.


Remove the rind from the limes and finely shred it. You need the rind, not just the zest, but try to avoid getting the white pith. Put the rind in a small pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then drain and set to one side

Cook the chicken first. Soften the first lot of butter. Finely chop the first lot of tarragon and incorporate it into the butter, mixing well with some salt and pepper.

Bake the chicken joints in a moderate oven on 180 C/Mark 4 for 40 minutes, basting from time to time.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Into a liquidiser or food processor, put the single cream, butter, flour, egg, yolks, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, then pour into a heatproof bowl. Stand the bowl in a saucepan of simmering water, with the water coming halfway up the sides of the bowl  –  this helps the sauce to cook faster. Stir the sauce with a wire whisk occasionally as it cooks. It will take 35 to 40 minutes to thicken.

Chop the tarragon. When the sauce has thickened, stir in the lime juice and tarragon. Don’t add the tarragon until just before serving – if it is kept hot for any length of time, it loses its fresh green colour and turns brown. The flavour is just as good, but the appearance suffers a bit!

To test if the chicken is cooked, pierce, the flash with a sharp knife – if the juices run clear, the chicken is done; if they run pink, it needs longer.  Arrange the pieces on a warmed serving dish. Pour over the sauce, and sprinkle the cooked shreds of lime rind on top.

This recipe comes from More Seasonal Cooking by Claire Macdonald



  1. Janet Hood on 14th July 2023 at 5:17 pm

    You can take most of the chilli out of mine if you are not a heat fan!

    • Tom Johnston on 15th July 2023 at 11:44 am

      And the half kilo of cayenne?

  2. Fiona Garwoid on 14th July 2023 at 5:29 pm

    Thanks. Recipe looks good. I’ll try that one soon!

  3. Mark Baird on 15th July 2023 at 11:27 am

    “Stand the ball in a saucepan of simmering water, with the water coming halfway up the sides of the ball”.

    Tom…what’s “the ball”? Don’t see mention of it elsewhere in the recipe.

    • Tom Johnston on 15th July 2023 at 11:43 am

      Well, it’s obviously the same heatproof ball you poured your mixture into. Like a mixing ball. Really! You people who try to take a wrecking bowl to my finely tuned articles. I slave all night over them, while you are out having a bowl. Do I have to tell you everything?

      • Baird Mark on 15th July 2023 at 11:49 am


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