Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lemon Chicken, two ways


Pollo al Limone

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 tbls clarified butter or 1 1/2 tbls butter 1 1/2 tbls olive oil

Sauce:
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
3 tbls chopped parsley

Pound chicken to about 1/4 inch thick. Lightly coat with flour/salt/pepper. Brown chicken over medium-high heat in two tbls butter for about 3 minutes per side. Set chicken aside. Wipe excess fat from pan. To the same skillet add stock, wine, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Boil over medium-high heat, reduce to low and simmer 5-8 minutes, until reduced by half. Return chicken to the skillet and spoon sauce over pieces. Cover and cook 2-3 more minutes until chicken is cooked. Uncover, add remaining tbl of butter and simmer 5 more minutes, stirring frequently. Serve over pasta.

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Ok, this is another really simple one. So, I am going to complicate it. Of course. Heh. The above is the recipe for this dish that I got from my brother. It is really, really good. But I have, surprise!, changed it. For one I never use 6 chicken breasts, I pretty much always use three since that's what comes in a package (and I'm only feeding two people normally). And instead of just cutting the recipe in half, I change a couple of things. I don't pound the chicken. I let it braise a lot longer which covers tenderizing and cooking evenly so pounding isn't necessary. And I just don't bother with flour, I think it's fine without it. I use maybe a million times more pepper. Ok, not quite that much, but lots more. I cut down on the butter to make it less fatty, even though the original isn't that bad. I also use more lemon juice and some of the zest. Here, why don't I just write up my version too.

My Lemon Chicken

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 - 1/2 tsp of lemon zest
1 tsp fresh black pepper (maybe more, I don't measure it. Lots.)
1 tbl parsley
1/2 tbl each butter and olive oil
salt as needed

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet to med-high. Rinse off the chicken then brown it till it's nice and brown. Three minutes per side is fine. While the chicken is cooking mix up the wine, stock, lemon juice, zest and pepper. Add the sauce mixture to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for 30-45 minutes or so, till very tender. Remove the cover and let it reduce for maybe 5 minutes. Add half tbl of butter, stir it in. Reduce till it is as thick as you want. Add parsley. If you have as much sauce as you like but it's not thick enough add a corn starch roux, bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then let rest for a minute.

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So there you have it. Two lemon chicken recipes, both with the same basic ingredients, two different ways. And you must choose! Unless your stove is bigger than mine, then you can do both at once. But that seems a bit excessive. If you want to do both, why not one after the other? They aren't really that different, no need to go crazy. But, choices kids. They make life more interesting. In brief: mine is easier, more lemony and lighter but takes longer. My brothers is fancier, quicker and has more butter. I never said I would make the choice easy for you. Heh. Now, since I do it my way when I do it, here is my way.

Oil in skillet, check. Chicken in skillet, check. Browned... sorta. Ok, this chicken was mostly frozen when I started. It's a weeknight, what do you want? It will turn out fine. Now you can take the chicken out and wipe up the oil or just leave it. Olive oil is the good kind of fat and adds some fine flavor. While the chicken is browning, mix the broth (unfortunately I don't have stock... yet), lemon juice, zest, wine and pepper together. I don't have any pictures of that, it's not really that thrilling. The reason for zest and juice is my girlfriend loves lemon. If you aren't a great, big, huge lemon fan, you can omit the zest. Now just pour the mixture in. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover it. Simmer it for maybe 45 minutes or even longer, till it's really tender. Remove the cover and reduce the sauce till it's almost as thick as you want it. Or, if the flavor is good and the amount of sauce is how you want it, add a corn starch roux, bring it to a boil again for a minute (stirring the whole time) and that will thicken it right up. Bear in mind, the next step will thicken it just a little bit. Now add the butter. Even just a half tablespoon rounds out this sauce really nicely. This is also when you add the parsley... which I forgot. Please don't hold it against me. That's it. Serve it over pasta. I usually use fettuccine, this time it's the egg kind. Worked out well, the flavors are good together. And it comes in these weird little ball thingies. Can't go wrong with that.Now, see how the chicken just pulls apart? That's really good. That's some tender stuff right there.If you have a lot of folks to feed and only X amount of chicken you can cut the chicken into strips and reduce the cooking time accordingly. This lets you use the chicken more as an accent than as the main part. So that's it! I'd say choose wisely, but both ways are wicked good. Don't want to do either? Well then change it up how you want it. The only right way is the way the people who are going to eat it like it. But if you make changes, let me know! I thrive on new ideas here.

1 comment:

Mary Beth said...

The man just made this the other night for the first time in a while. Yum yum.

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