Friday, April 07, 2006

Friday Food #13: Lemon Chicken

I had a cooking disaster last night (actually, the food was fine, it just wasn't all cooked at the same time) and I really didn't want to post a recipe today. Then I remembered that I'd made lemon chicken the night before and it was a great I regained my confidence. This is the first meal I made for Mark's mom, I believe--it used to be my standby "casual dinner party" (the only kind I ever have) main dish. It's relatively quick and always tastes good. I've adapted it very slightly from my first "real" cookbook, The New York Times 60-Minute Gourmet. My battered copy is actually in pieces now--time to tape up the spine again--and this is the recipe it falls open to. Franey calls it Poulet Scarpariello, or Chicken in White Wine, but I have always called it lemon chicken. You can decide.

To serve four, you need:

The number of chicken pieces you want to serve four. For years, I made this with four large, meaty, bone-in breasts. Franey wants you to have a 3-1/2 pound chicken, cut into serving pieces. But the other night I made it with eight boneless, skinless thighs, and that really worked well--and was quicker than bone-in pieces. So you decide.

Flour for dredging
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbl. butter
2 tsp. finely minced garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry sherry
juice of 1 lemon
(optional: 3 tbl. finely chopped parsley)

Season the flour with salt and pepper and dredge the chicken in it.

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet--large enough to hold all the chicken comfortably in one layer. Add the chicken (skin side down, if your chicken has skin) and cook until it is golden brown on one side--4-5 minutes with no bones, up to 10 minutes for big meaty pieces. Do not cover the skillet.

Turn the chicken pieces and cook until done. I always need to pierce one piece with a knife, and it always takes a little longer than I think it will. Franey says 10 to 12 more minutes for his bone-in pieces. Without bones, again, it shouldn't take quite as long.

Carefully pour the fat from the skillet, leaving the chicken in it. Add the butter and, when it has melted, add the garlic as well. Pour the wine around the chicken and bring to the boil. Squeeze the lemon juice over the chicken and, if you're using it, sprinkle with parsley. Cover closely and cook 3 minutes longer. (I've never ever used the parsley, not out of any personal animosity towards parsley but just because I never seem to have it around, and I've never missed it, but one day I will use it and report back.)

I usually serve this over brown rice with a salad or some other green vegetable; Franey includes a recipe for rapini as a side dish, and it looks good but I've never made it. He also, of course, wants you to serve it with "the usual salad with cheese as a second course and, if desired, a final course of fresh fruit or a purchased or previously made dessert." I love the assumptions buried in there, about the kind of meal this is, the kind of person you are, etc. I've of course never served it with a salad and cheese course to follow. Sigh.


Susan said...

Oooh, this sounds delicious. I will definitely try it. Although we have gotten SO lazy, we never use bone-in chicken anymore!! I wonder how this would work with boneless breasts.

Libby said...

boneless breasts can get a little dry, Susan, which is why I like the boneless thighs better. If you watch it closely so you don't overcook, though, it works. I've done it that way before.