Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lemon Chicken Breasts

Chicken... if it's over done- you get chalk and are looking to the sides to fill your need, if it's under done you're either in the hospital or back to the pan with disappointed eaters waiting patiently.  GET IT RIGHT, no excuses.  Don't put your loved ones through that!

I'm not kidding: Chris seriously grills the BEST chicken ever.  I could possibly live off chicken if it was just Chris, a grill and me on a dessert desert island.  But we're not... and we're all so glad there's more than just chicken out there.  Anyway, Chris had the night off and it's oven time.

But there is something so RIGHT, when chicken is done right.  It goes back to simple ingredients and knowing HOW to use those ingredients.

Lemon Chicken Breast (by Ina Garten)

There's nothing fancy about this dish.  And there's no one new in the line up.  Wine, lemon, garlic, spices, salt and pep... speaking of salt and pepper:

I think I went most my life not knowing HOW to season my food.

I can still see my sister... (sorry Whit, you knew it would come up) who would do one half shake of each salt and pepper- as though we were playing pretend, shaking just for looks.  You can turn heads with just salt and pepper.  It's a brilliant pairing really.  Use good salt, just enough, but do use it.  And pepper- I love the coarse fresh cracked.  When you taste food and it's good, but not great, chances are it could use a little black pepper.  My grandpa John is the kind of guy that unscrews the top at restaurants- not to pull a prank, but to liberally pour on the pepper.  I'm all for aggressive, but that's a little much for me.  But we love him anyway.

OK now for Ina's recipe:

1/4 cup olive oil
9 garlic cloves minced
1/3 cup dry white wine (I used chardonnay)
2 lemons worth of zest
2 tbls fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
SALT AND PEPPER (see note above)
4 boneless chicken breasts (I had skinless, but would recommend skin on if possible to get that crisp)
1 lemon

(note: my pictures show double the recipe)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Get chopping.

Over medium-low heat, warm the garlic in the oil just enough to flavor the oil, but not to brown the garlic.

Off the heat it goes after about a minute.

Get your zest.  The room will smell amazing.

Keep those lemons for the juice too.

In a pan, combine the oil, garlic, wine, zest, juice, oregano, thyme and 1 tsp salt.

Now for your chicken.  They look like they're all napping together.  Make sure to pat dry your chicken breasts. This has become a cardinal rule for me no matter the mode of cooking or what meat.  It really helps spices stick to the meat and flavor it.  It also allows for good coloring and sear if using a pan or grill.

Tuck them in together ON TOP of the sauce.

Brush with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper.

Add lemon wedges in between: like pillows for nap time.

Bake for 30-40 min.  If you have skin on, it should be lightly browned.

Cover pan tightly and rest for 10 minutes after cooking.  Serve hot with pan juices.

This is simple chicken baked to perfection.  Just enough acids, just enough herbs, easy breezy.  I paired this with my Spring Roasted Veggies.


  1. I made and blogged this recipe a few months ago. It is a very easy dish to make, and full of flavor. I know what you mean about under-seasoning food. I once had a friend who used NO salt in her dishes, as she felt it was her duty to tell everyone that salt is bad for you. Yes and no. Salt does make things taste better, indeed. The trick is learning not to use TOO much salt! Well done. (Love the lemon tucked in like pillows...LOL)

  2. Noelle, I am making this for our dinner party of 6 with the Johnsons and Camerons on Wednesday! Can't wait...I too loved the pillows comment...you are adorable.

  3. ok, super easy and very nice and tasty with just the right balance of lemon and garlic! Our guests really enjoyed it. I served it with a potato agratin dish (with celery root and parnips!) A nice Pinot Grigo and Chardonnay went nicely with the salad and meal. ! Yay!!!!!!