If an Italian grandmother were to make Lemon Chicken, this would be it - in fact, this recipe for healthy baked chicken originated with an Italian grandmother, my friend Marie's mother. No question why it's a favorite family recipe: it's quick, it's hearty, it's lemon-y, it's garlick-y and yes, it's delicious. Weight Watchers? This recipe has just five Weight Watchers points!
It’s slightly embarrassing, the habit of picking up new friends in public places. Take Marie. Marie and I met while ogling heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market. We grabbed coffees and talked for an hour, then another. As if strangers on airplanes, we each divulged unexpected confidences.
Marie’s a fine, fine cook with Italian bloodlines. She introduced me to the Feast of Seven Fishes, the traditional Christmas Eve celebration. One snowy morning, she came for coffee, delivering blueberry muffins still warm from the oven. (Yes, this is a friend one works to keep.) Then she shared her mother’s recipe for a lemon-y, garlick-y baked chicken, wow.
In Marie’s own words, here’s how the chicken came to be such a family favorite. “This is a delicious baked chicken recipe my mom used to make when I was growing up. Unfortunately, I didn’t truly appreciate it until I was an adult. But whenever my mom made this for my family, the grandchildren would simply devour it. Since my mother was their ‘nana’, over the years, the recipe came to be known by all of us as ‘Nana’s Chicken’.“
HOMEMADE ITALIAN BREAD CRUMBS In a food processor, whiz 2 slices whole wheat bread with 2 tablespoons fresh parsley and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning.
ITALIAN LEMON CHICKEN
aka 'Nana's Chicken'
Time to table: 60 - 75 minutes
DREDGE & BROWN
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 - 1 cup flour
- 2 eggs whisked with 1 tablespoon milk
- 2 cups Homemade Italian Bread Crumbs (see recipe on the left or use two cups commercial seasoned Italian bread crumbs, what Marie and her mother use)
- 6 small boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1-1/2 pounds, see TIPS)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
- 10 cloves garlic, chopped
- 6 slices fresh lemon
Preheat oven to 325F. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium high until shimmery.
DREDGE Meanwhile, arrange the flour in a large flat bowl, the egg mixture in another, the Homemade Italian Bread Crumbs in another. Drop each breast into the flour to lightly coat, then the egg mixture, then the bread crumbs.
BROWN Drop the breasts into the skillet and brown on each side, about 5 minutes each. (If your skillet is small, this may take two batches.)
BAKE Drizzle the bottom of a low ceramic or glass baking dish with olive oil, then splash with lemon juice. Arrange the chicken on top in a single layer, sprinkle with garlic, then place a lemon slice on each breast. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
How to Make Italian Bread Crumbs at Home
For cooks who keep a can of commercial Italian bread crumbs on hand, go ahead, use them because that's what both Marie and her mother use. But if you'd like to make homemade Italian bread crumbs that's whizzed with good bread and fresh parsley, this is a great concoction. Here's my recipe for Homemade Italian Bread Crumbs.
More Favorite Chicken Recipes
My Favorite Recipes from Italy
(or an Italian Grandmother!)
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