Saturday, October 20, 2007

Crusted Chicken with Lemon & Garlic

When a cooking instructor says something like "this is one of my favorite recipes," I listen up. Make notes. And prepare the dish soon for my family. That's this recipe today. Phillis Carey, whom I've mentioned many times before, is a wizard with chicken (she's even published a cookbook about chicken). I've made any number of the recipes in her cookbook, and this is a relatively easy one. Dinner, with a fresh vegetable and salad, took an hour. (Sorry Rachel, I can't seem to manage 30 minute meals no matter how I try, unless I'm reheating leftovers.)

What sets this recipe apart from lots of other baked chicken breasts are the following things:

  • the lemon zest and lemon juice
  • the fresh bread crumb topping
  • the extremely hot oven it's baked in

Lemons are a regular on my menus, all times of the year. We found a stray Meyer lemon on one of our dwarf trees a week or so ago, which made me very happy. I used part of it the other day and had a half leftover. Just barely enough to add juice to the sour cream mix and zest to add to the bread crumbs. I can't say that it was very easy zesting a cut/half lemon, but I managed.

The bread crumbs must be fresh. Do not, under any circumstances, use canned bread crumbs for this. They'll make it way too dry. You need crumbs that have some moisture. I do keep some crumbs in the freezer, but I must say they don't keep overly well once the icy particles cling to them. I've even used wheat bread for this, although I do think white bread makes a prettier crust.

First you pound the chicken breasts to make them approximately uniform in thickness. Prepare the sour cream mixture and have the bread crumbs at the ready. I use a large silpat in a pan.

I remove the chicken tenders and make them separate, small servings. Try to mush them up thicker, so they don't overbake. Then you cover the chicken with the sour cream, garlic, lemon juice and mustard mixture. That takes about 2 minutes max. Then you sprinkle the fresh bread crumbs on top and kind of pat it onto the sour cream so it sticks. Cover as much of the sour cream as you can.
Meanwhile you will have heated the oven to 475 (hot!). Pop these babies in that hot oven and watch them carefully so they don't dry out. Mine take exactly 12 minutes. Serve immediately.

Chicken with Garlicky Lemon Crust
Recipe: Phillis Carey, cooking instructor and author
Serving Size : 6
6 pieces chicken breast half without skin salt and pepper -- to taste
3 whole garlic cloves -- minced
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese -- freshly grated
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 cups fresh bread crumbs
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1. Preheat oven to 450° - on convection bake, if available. Line a baking pan with parchment or with a Silpat. Trim chicken and pound it to an even 1/2 inch thickness. Lay chicken shiny side up on the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.
2. In a small bowl combine the garlic, Parmesan, sour cream, lemon juice and mustard. Spread this mixture over the top of the chicken breasts, covering completely. You can chill the chicken at this point if necessary. Combine breadcrumbs and lemon zest and press them lightly to mold them on top of the breasts. Cup your hand gently to press them into place.
3. Bake 12-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and bread crumbs are well browned.
NOTES : If you don't have sour cream, use yogurt or mayonnaise instead. The breadcrumbs make this dish - it's absolutely necessary to use fresh crumbs, not canned, dried ones. You can whiz up some sliced white bread in the processor. The instructor said this was one of her favorite recipes.
Per Serving: 298 Calories; 12g Fat (36.3% calories from fat); 32g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 89mg Cholesterol; 333mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 4 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.
To view a PDF recipe, click title at top.

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