A few weeks ago I came down with a strep-throat like infection. I was miserable for several days and was pretty much surviving on pudding and chicken broth until the antibiotics finally kicked in and brought relief. To keep me entertained, while trying to feel better and occupying the couch, I decided that watching some food-network was in order. Needless to say, it was also quite torturous watching the chefs prepare delicious looking dish after dish and not being able to eat. On the plus side though, I took tons of notes and ended up with several recipes on my "must-make list". One of the shows I watched was with Ina Garten aka the Barefoot Contessa, which had me and my husband (who kept me company) literally drooling watching her prepare a recipe for lemon chicken breasts. We decided right then and there that this recipe would make an appearance on our dinner table as soon as I was able to eat solid food again.
This recipe is a must for any garlic and lemon lover. There are no subtle flavors in this dish, it is a smack you in the face kind of recipe and will truly satisfy a craving for a "done right" chicken dish. Nine garlic cloves are heated in a bit of olive oil on the stove before lemon juice, lemon zest, white wine, oregano and thyme round out this flavor experience. The scented oil is then poured into a baking dish, de-boned, but skin on chicken breasts are placed on top of the lemon-garlic mixture and are brushed with more olive oil before receiving a final sprinkle of salt and pepper. For good measure and to ensure even more flavor a cut up lemon is tucked in between all of the meat into to the pan before baking. After a baking time of around 40 minutes, you are left with incredibly moist pieces of chicken and a sauce that is to die for.
I served this dish with rice, freshly grilled asparagus, and some crusty bread which helps to sop up all of the delectable sauce that is literally good enough to drink. This recipe is easily made on a weekday, but certainly would make for an impressive entree if entertaining as well. If you've been in a chicken "rut" and are always on the hunt to add a little excitement to dinner time, I highly recommend this dish. This is one of the few recipes that I've made recently that was good to go as written without me changing anything and that doesn't happen all too often. So far, none of the Barefoot Contessa's recipes have failed me yet and this one will be added to the list!
Ina Garten's Lemon Chicken Breasts
1/4 cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
1/3 cup dry white wine (I used a Chardonnay)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme eaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on (6 to 8 ounces each)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don't allow the garlic to brown. Remove pan from stove, and off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.
Pat the chicken breast dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn't browned enough, put it under the broiler for about 2 minutes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve hot with the pan juices.
Adapted from: Ina Garten