I love things that can be prepped ahead and then cooked quickly. I also like to feed my family as if they are guests so when I make these lovely, light and flavorful chicken breasts, I’m happy to make a weekday dinner into an occasion. There is no careful measuring and I can make as few as two chicken breasts or as many as a dozen. These could be grilled or made in the oven as I do since I do not own a grill. The chicken is best prepped so that it sits overnight in the fridge, but even a few hours ahead of cooking will work. The flavors and aromas are so bright and the chicken is so tender and moist that you forget that it is simply a boring boneless, skinless chicken breast. I serve them with herbed roasted potatoes and a crispy veg like barely steamed broccoli, but the sides are up to you. I would only make these with fresh herbs. And the added bonus to this dish is that the preparation is a wonderful way to work out any of your aggression from the day!
Herbed Chicken Breasts
Yield: That is up to you!
Ingredients for 2 chicken breasts
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2-3 Tablespoons of roughly chopped fresh herbs (My favorites are rosemary and Greek Oregano, but thyme is also good. I would not use a softer herb like basil for this.)
1-2 lemons, with the ends trimmed off and thinly sliced
2 fat garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
EVOO (flavored if you have it – I used Meyer lemon EVOO)
Hungarian sweet paprika for sprinkling (optional)
- Place your chicken breast about 3 inches apart between two sheets of parchment that is placed over a cutting board (the board will absorb some of the pounding). Using a meat tenderizer (the round flat kind pictured above) or a small, heavy frying pan, pound each breast until it is flattened and even in thickness. The breast should be about twice the size of the original. Use even pressure so as not to tear the meat. A little tearing is no big deal, but you want one nice, flat breast.
- Salt and pepper each side of the chicken and carefully place in a plastic zip-lock bag or in a glass dish. Drizzle with EVOO – about 1-2 Tablespoons.
- Add the thinly sliced lemons, placing half on one side of the bag and the other half on the other side. Distribute the herbs and garlic in the same manner. Seal the bag, getting out as much of the air as you can. With your hand, gently massage the herbs, lemon, garlic and EVOO into the breasts. Place the bag in the fridge, keeping it flat if possible.
- When you are ready to cook the chicken, heat your oven to 425 degrees F with the pan in the oven. If you have a grill pan, this would be a great use for it. Otherwise, a shallow baking pan covered with foil will work. When the oven and the pan have come to temperature, drizzle a little EVOO in the pan. Using tongs, place the chicken breasts,without any liquid that may have collected in the bag, on the pan. Place the lemons around, but not on the chicken. Distribute any herbs and garlic. Sprinkle with a bit of paprika if you like. Drizzle with EVOO. Roast for about 9 minutes a side, turning once. You will have to watch the chicken since the sizes of the breasts these days are so variable and tend to be large. They could take a little longer or shorter, but you want the chicken to be totally cooked through without being over-cooked. If you have a broiler in your oven, I like to turn it on for the final few minutes of cooking to give a really good color to the chicken and lemons. If you don’t have a broiler, just cook the chicken until nicely browned. When you are plating the chicken, place a couple of slices of the lemon along with some of the herbs and garlic on each piece. I love to eat the roasted lemon, but that is up to you.