It’s a delicious riff on a classic dish that can be whipped up in no time flat. Just remember three basic steps.
To me, there's really nothing better than sautéed chicken in a pan sauce. Done right, it can make a merely capable cook look like a superior one. It was just about the first thing I ever learned to do by myself as a child, and the thing I still order time and again whenever I can in restaurants.
So many people ask me, "Alex, what's your favorite recipe?" I hardly ever answer, feigning the same affinity a mother hen does for every member of her brood, but if pressed, I must confess, this one is right up there at the top of my list.
Crust is king: It's the direct result of the dry-wet-dry dredging process this recipe employs. Remember: dry-wet-dry. Easy enough? These three steps are the keys to the kingdom. Each morsel of excellent Parmesan and black pepper infuses a run-of-the-mill chicken breast with stupendous exquisiteness. Browned butter and fresh lemon juice complete the scene, and all of a sudden, one Technicolor spectacular of a culinary moment is born. Just think — it all starts with dry-wet-dry. Never forget it.
When you're ready to sauté, make sure the foaming of the butter has subsided, and that the pan is really hot. If it's not hot enough, your chicken will stick, and dry-wet-dry won't matter anymore. I want your pieces to look just like the ones on that sensational green platter in the opening photo, and I promise, they can. Don't you dare use bottled lemon juice — promise? And always buy the best Parmesan, because it makes such a difference. Freshly ground black pepper is better than the stuff that's been ground before you buy it, but you already knew that, right?
Let me know how it goes. Plus, since I told you my favorite — don't tell anyone else — chicken recipe, what's yours?
Happy cooking! Love, Alex.
Parmesan-Crusted Chicken with Lemon Butter
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2⅓ teaspoons plus 1½ teaspoons salt
1⅛ teaspoons plus ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup milk
¾ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, firmly packed
½ cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons salted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
Chopped chives for garnish
1. Wash and thoroughly pat the chicken dry.
2. Butterfly or pound the breasts so they are ¼- to ½-inch thick, and then season both sides with ⅛ teaspoon of the salt and a pinch of the ground black pepper, for a total of ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, ½ cup of the lemon juice, garlic, 1¼ teaspoons of the salt, and ½ teaspoon of the black pepper. Set the bowl aside.
4. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the Parmesan cheese, flour, the remaining 2⅛ teaspoons of salt, and the remaining 1¼ teaspoons of black pepper. Set this bowl aside too.
5. Melt the butter with the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.
6. Dip the chicken in the dry ingredients, coating it on both sides, then in the wet ingredients, then again in the dry ingredients. A thick coating will be evident on the breasts.
7. When the butter's foaming has subsided, sauté the chicken in batches, 3 to 4 minutes per side, until both sides are golden brown. Transfer the finished pieces to a warm serving platter.
8. When you are finished sautéing the chicken, deglaze the pan with the remaining ¼ cup lemon juice. Swirl the mixture together, and pour the lemon-butter sauce over the top of the breasts. Garnish with the chopped chives and serve.
Happy Cooking, Love Alex!
Photos by Victoria Pearson