Take the Pressure Off

Ligurian Lemon Chicken—just another reason to get yourself a pressure cooker. Have you ever used one? It’s kind of like a slow cooker on super fast forward. Toss ingredients in the pot, fasten the lid on tight, and wait—but not long. The pressure cooker heats up and the trapped steam increases the internal pressure and allows the temperature to rise. Braising meats normally takes hours of low, slow cooking. With a pressure cooker you can get the same results on speed dial.


Liguria is a coastal region of north-western Italy, popular with tourists for its beaches, towns and cuisine—thus this recipe. If the finely chopped herbs and garlic in the marinate remind you of pesto, you would be in the right culinary locality. Dishes from this northern Italian vicinity are often made with lots, and lots of herbs and garlic and this chicken dish is no exception. Interestingly, Liguria is the original source of pesto, one of the most popular sauces in Italian cuisine, which ties in nicely with my recent blog Primo Pesto Possibilities, but I digress…

If it wasn’t for the marinating, which takes 2-4 hours plus prep, the actual time in the pressure cooker, other than browning, is only 10 minutes. A marinade never totally penetrates most foods, at best, they flavor a thin outside layer. For chicken use these times as a guide: whole chicken, 4 to 12 hours; boneless breasts, 30 minutes to 2 hours; thighs, 1 to 6 hours; whole breast with skin and bone, up to 2 hours. Most important, never, ever reuse a leftover marinade because it can have harmful bacteria.

That being said, poultry can marinate for up to two days in the refrigerator, according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. But very acidic marinades can actually toughen the meat over time, and since this recipe has a LOT of lemon juice, it is very acidic and could compromise the meat. Also, DON’T marinate in aluminum containers or foil, because a chemical reaction could spoil the food.

A time saving step is to cut up the chicken (if you are using a whole bird) and make the marinade the night before. Put the chicken pieces in a ziploc, and the marinade in another sealed container. When you get home from work the next day, toss the sauce into the ziploc with the chicken for a few hours. That way, the pressure is off to do it all at once!



  • 4 lemons, three juiced and one for garnish
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary (two for chopping, one for garnish)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh sage
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley leaves and stems
  • 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 chicken, cut into parts OR 1 package of bone-in chicken pieces
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • 4 ounce black gourmet salt-cured olives (Taggiesche, French, or Kalamata)


  1. Finely chop the garlic, rosemary, sage, and parsley. Place in a container and add lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.
  2. Place the chicken pieces in a deep dish and cover with the marinade, then cover with plastic wrap; or place in a ziploc bag as shown above. Leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours. (Do not marinate overnight.)
  3. Heat olive oil and brown the chicken pieces on all sides for about 5 minutes, in two batches if necessary. Set aside.
  4. De-glaze pan with the white wine until it has almost all evaporated. Add the chicken pieces back in, dark-meat first. Drape the chicken breasts on top so that they do not touch the bottom of the pressure cooker. Pour the marinade on top.
  5. Close and lock. Turn heat to high. Cook for 8-10 minutes at high pressure (or for 18-20 minutes at low pressure). Release pressure.
  6. Take the chicken pieces out of pan and place covered on a serving dish. Reduce the liquid to 1/4 of its amount, or until it becomes thick and pour over chicken.
  7. Garnish with olives, lemon wedges and a sprinkle of small rosemary sprigs.

IMG_2430A side of polenta makes a great vehicle to soak up the luscious sauce.

Recipe from Fagor Pressure Cookers

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