Ina Garten's Secret Method To Prevent Bitter Lemon Rinds

If you don't know that the Barefoot Contessa is fond of making chicken dinners, then chances are you haven't been paying attention. Ina Garten is the queen of chicken dinners. In fact, when Food & Wine quizzed the celebrity chef about the one dish she couldn't live without what do you think she said? If you guessed roast chicken, then winner, winner. "To me, it's a classic, comforting home meal and it's amazingly simple to make," Garten explained. "I love to make a roast chicken and fill the cavity with lemon and thyme, and then roast it in a pan of carrots and potatoes and onions, and it's a meal in one dish."

The au courant Garten chicken dinner that has tongues both salivating and wagging is her skillet roasted lemon chicken, which can be found in her "Cooking for Jeffrey" cookbook. That said, it's fair to say Garten really likes this dish because per Food52, she shared, "I can't tell you how many times I've made this! I have the butcher butterfly the chicken so all I do is grind the thyme, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper, mix it with olive oil, and brush it on the chicken. When the lemon slices are roasted and caramelized, you can eat them with the chicken." Sounds delish, but before you start prepping, you may want to learn Garten's secret (or maybe not so secret) method to prevent bitter lemon rinds.

Slice the lemon thinly

On Garten's Ask Ina forum, a fan from Florida shared she had recently made this favored chicken dish, but ran into a culinary roadblock: she found the rinds of the lemons to be bitter. "We just bought your 'Cooking For Jeffrey' book and made the Skillet Roasted Lemon Chicken," the fan revealed. "We loved it, however there was a distinct bitterness to the dish due to the rind of the lemon. Is there a way around this?"

Garten's answer was surprisingly simple: The trick for ensuring your cooked lemons don't taste bitter all stems from how thinly you slice up your lemon. You want them thin. Garten responded by explaining, "As the lemon slices cook, they break down and caramelize, but it's important that they be sliced very thin — no more than 1/4 inch slices — or they may remain bitter." Such an easy solution, right? Additionally, Bon Appétit shares that when cooking lemons, you should remove the seeds because they, too, can contribute to a bitter taste to your food that will make you pucker. So, now that you know Garten's secret for ensuring your caramelized lemons aren't bitter, time to get cooking!