This dish is so simple, quick, easy to clean up, and delicious that it has earned its spot in my standard home dinner rotation. It’s a total crowd pleaser, too. With it, I’ve seen some very picky kids learn to love capers, so long as they’re slathered in lemon butter.
Adapted from memory
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup white wine
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1/4 – 1/2 cup cold butter cubes
Cocotte or oven-safe pot or skillet with lid
Traditionally, the chicken is pounded out thin before flouring, but I make mine a little differently. So first, leave them whole, even with the tenders on. Trim up the fat a little if you’d like, then dredge in salted flour.
In a cocotte or large saucepan with a lid, cook a little olive oil over medium heat until steaming. Place the chicken into the oil and don’t move it for at least 5 minutes. Flip when the bottoms have a nice caramelized look to them. When both sides are browned, pull the chicken out and set it aside.
Let’s make sauce! Leave that pan dirty and on medium heat while you pour in the white wine and lemon juice. As it bubbles, scrape all of the delicious stuck-on stuff off of the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon so that it incorporates with the liquid. This technique is called deglazing, and is also a great thing to know about when you accidentally burn a piece of toast onto the bottom of a pan. Edible acidic liquids, such as wine, lemon juice, or vinegar, will pull pan-leavings right up when heated.
When the liquid has reduced by about half, add in the capers and lemon zest. Turn off the heat and begin adding in the cold butter cubes slowly while whisking. The sauce will start to thicken. You can add as little or as much butter as you please. I prefer the whole half cup (and sometimes more, if I have a nice loaf of bread to soak it up with).
Taste your sauce and add salt (and cayenne!) as desired. Place the browned chicken breasts back in the sauce and flip them over to coat.
Now, if you were going traditional, you’d be done now! Because I don’t pound my chicken out thinly, it is not often all the way cooked in the center. I prefer really tender, salmonella-free chicken for this dish, so I instead cover the cocotte and place it in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes. All of that lemony buttery goodness soaks right into the meat as it goes to you-don’t-need-a-knife-to-eat-this land.
The sauce itself is great on pasta, bread, asparagus, or broccolini. The whole thing stores a week, travels well, and reheats tasting even better!