The more things change, the more the stay the same. What is true in life is true in cooking (and drinking). Even when we cook ever-more-complicated food and mix ever-more-esoteric cocktails, the simple often (usually?) wins the day. And recently, we were playing with some very, very complex cocktails before we decided to mix a simple Hoffman House (a Martini of 2/3 dry gin, 1/3 dry vermouth, orange bitters and a lemon twist). Not surprisingly, the simple cocktail was the best thing we have had in weeks.
The same holds for cooking. Just a few weeks ago, Michael Bauer of the SF Chronicle mentioned the Brown Butter Chicken of Corso, a Tuscan-inspired restaurant in the East Bay. Now, frankly, we go to SoCal (even NYC) more often than the East Bay (sad to say, but it’s true). So while may not make it to Corso, that chicken sounded amazing. Chicken, butter, flour, salt, lemon and heat- simple. So we made it. And, indeed, it was simple….and simply, f@#king awesome.
Of course, you may be saying “it has brown butter, how bad can it be”? And you would be right. We use brown butter all the time on fish, veggies and pasta. Brown butter is one of the fastest ways to improve a dish (and kids love it). But it is always good to get a reminder that the best basic flavors work all sorts of places. And in this case you crisp chicken on the stovetop with butter ( high fat “Eurobutter” like Plugra works best), cook it through in the oven…with butter, and then finish on the stovetop and brown even more butter…then add some lemon to cut that butter. Yup, the only thing you may be asking is “why didn’t we do this sooner…and who is our cardiologist again?”
Regardless, go make this dish. We don’t suggest you make it every day, as the calorie count is a bit daunting….hey, it is low carb. But this dish will be equally welcome as a weeknight dish for the kids or as the main for a small dinner party. It smells great during cooking, looks good on the plate and tastes like a million
grams of fat dollars. Funny how the simple stuff always works the best…just add butter.
(Adapted from Corso and the SF Chronicle)
Notes Before You Start:
- High fat / lower water content “Eurobutter” like Plugra makes for better brown butter. It is a bit of the splurge, but this is a special dish.
What You Get: An amazingly flavorful chicken dish, with minimal work or ingredients.
What You Need: A heavy cast iron skillet is best here. If you don’t have one, now is the time. Heck, a Lodge cast iron skillet may cost less than the Plugra….and we aren’t kidding!
How Long? Less than 1 hour, and an easy hour at that. But we do suggest you pre-salt the chicken for at least 6-24 hours, if you can. Anytime dish.
- 4, 6-8 ounce chicken half breasts, boneless, skin-on
- Kosher salt to taste
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or as needed
- 1 pound unsalted Eurobutter, like Plugra, room temperature
- 2 lemons or limes, seeded and halved
- Italian parsley, for garnish
Optional: Liberally salt the chicken breasts (including under the skin) 6-24 hours before cooking.
- Pace a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 500°. Remove the small tender section from the inside part of each breast and reserve for another use. Generously salt chicken then dredge in flour, shaking off any excess.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet or other heavy, oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) butter. When the butter begins bubbling, add the chicken, skin side down. Cook 15 minutes without moving the breasts.
- Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Return the skillet to stovetop over medium heat. Turn the breasts over so the skin side is up, then add remaining butter. Continue to cook until the melted butter turns a nutty brown color, about 5 minutes, and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of about 160° (you can remove the chicken from the heat at 140-145 and it will continue to cook up to 160).
- Remove chicken from the skillet, place in warmed shallow bowls, and pour about one-quarter of the butter over each breast. Season to taste, garnish with parsley and lemon halves. Serve immediately.