Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Evie's Lemon Chicken

Periodically I like to share family recipes here. I've written about dill pickles, about noodle kugel, matzoh meal popovers, and blintz casseroles. Clearly, they have an Eastern European Jewish spin to them. But that's what I grew up on.


My parents were terrific cooks. For as long as I can remember, they both enjoyed the creativity of the kitchen and from an early age taught my sister, brother, and me jewels of recipes from our family and culture as well as day-to-day contemporary dishes. Some families ski, others go camping. Ours cooked. My mom in particular has long collected cookbooks about cuisines around the world and has been adventurous in both her cooking and baking and her grocery shopping. It's just part of her DNA. She's reined it in now and my dad can no longer cook, due to his progressing Alzheimer's, but Mom can still surprise me with a terrific dish that's new in her repertoire.

This lemon chicken is one of them. I first had it at their house several months ago. I'm not a white meat chicken fan so I wasn't looking forward to eating it. But, whoa, I loved it. The chicken was tender and moist, with some crunch from breading in panko. Lemon and chicken is a perfect pairing and the citrus here is delightfully tangy, complemented by a fragrant herbs. My mom served it recently with grilled asparagus and roasted baby potatoes, but I'd be sure to have some kind of rice or grains to sop up the juices.

The premise for this lemon chicken is simple. You take chicken tenders (or skinless, boneless chicken thighs--or even fish or boneless pork ribs) and dip them in egg, then panko (both well seasoned, of course) and sauté till brown. Place them in a single layer in oiled pyrex or other baking dishes (for this amount, you'll need two). Pour the chicken broth mixed with lemon juice over the chicken. Cover with foil and bake.

That's it.

And, the beauty of this dish--besides the flavor--is that it freezes wonderfully. So you can make a big batch at once and create individual meals for later.

Evie's Lemon Chicken
(printable recipe)
Yield: 5 to 6 servings

To get really crispy chicken, use cast iron skillets and don't crowd the chicken pieces. Be sure to have paper towels ready on plates to place the cooked chicken to drain. If you don't want to use white meat chicken, this will work just as well with skinless, boneless thighs, boneless pork ribs, and even fish.

20 ounces chicken broth
Zest of 2 lemons
5 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup panko
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
3 pounds boneless chicken tenders (about 15 tenders)
Extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. To make the sauce, mix together chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt. Set aside.
3. Mix together eggs, lemon juice, and garlic salt. Set aside.
4. Mix together panko, cheese, and herbs. Set aside.

5. Trim fat from the chicken. Dunk each piece in the egg mixture, then dredge in the panko mixture. Place in a single layer on a plate until ready to sauté.

6. Heat two cast iron skillets and add about a quarter inch of olive oil to cover the bottom. Add the chicken but don't overcrowd. Sauté until brown on the bottom, then turn. When the chicken is browned on both sides remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Continue with the rest of the chicken until all have cooked.

7. Brush baking dishes with oil. Place the chicken in a single layer in oiled baking dishes. Pour chicken broth mixture over the chicken, halfway up the pan.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and serve with the juices.

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