Now, if this were an episode of Chopped, I’d probably be grilled on misrepresenting my dish by calling it something it’s not. Why do I bring up Chopped? Probably because I’ve been binge watching it while I’m cooking. Gotta get in the mood.
But since this is a food blog, I’m allowed to give things cutesy titles that aren’t all that representative of what was actually made. So why advertise this as chicken tenders? Well, because it’s tiny strips of chicken cut from a chicken breast. So it fits… kind of.
I decided to cut up the chicken breast because I wanted it to cook faster. Besides, only in the most miraculous of miracles can I ever cook a whole chicken breast on the stove and still have it be perfectly moist. Oven-cooked chicken? Always moist. Pan-cooked chicken? Usually never. I’m working on that one.
I don’t particularly care for chicken breast, because it dries out so easily and it’s just so flavorless. It takes a lot of prayer to not overcook it because overcooking it by a second dries it out. Sometimes it’s a little finicky. Not only that, but chicken breasts are so expensive. I can buy twice the amount of chicken if I buy thighs. And dark meat stays more moist than white meat does. But white meat has its perks.
White meat is better for you, for one, but it’s also better for cooking it in a sauce that consists of 50% cream and 50% butter. Chicken thighs would be a tad too heavy for that. And I can cut up chicken breasts into sizeable chicken tenders whereas thighs would just look like derpy little strips.
But enough about chicken, after I cut these up, I mixed myself a marinade. I used some lemon zest, lemon juice, rosemary, sage, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. I really like citrus, and I’m a sucker for anything with lemon in it. And lemon is kind of the quintessential seasoning for chicken. Adding the zest and the juice will allow a brighter lemon flavor in the end and it allows me to use all of the lemon available.
Throw the chicken in this marinade, mix it up, cover it, and place it in the fridge. I would suggest letting it marinade for at least 30 minutes, but the more you let it sit the better. So overnight would be the best case scenario. Obviously, keep it in the fridge because leaving chicken out for more than half an hour will cause all of that horrible bacteria in raw chicken to really fester. The last thing we want is to poison other people with food.
After marinading the chicken, I heat up a nonstick skillet over medium heat and throw the chicken into the skillet. I don’t need to add any butter or oil because the chicken’s already covered in oil so it won’t stick to the pan. I only want to cook the chicken for a couple minutes on each side since I’m going to cook it in butter in cream a little later.
After the chicken has been cooked on both sides, remove it and set it aside for later. I melt some butter in the skillet and then add in the cream once it’s melted. If there’s any leftover marinade left, add that in too, no need for it to go to waste.
After the cream comes to a boil, I added the chicken back into the pan and made sure they were all partially submerged into the sauce.
I covered the skillet with a lid and let it steam for another couple minutes. Then I turned the chicken over and let it cook on the other side in the same manner. This way the chicken will suck up the cream sauce on all sides instead of being moist on the bottom and possibly a little dry on the top.
And that’s really all there is to it. When I made this I served it with the gnocchi and brussel sprouts I had written about previously. Lemon flavored things go very well with balsamic. I know I could’ve done a balsamic chicken, but I felt that it would make the plate as a whole a little one note. But there you have it, a relatively simple method to cook chicken that could be done during the busiest of weeks.
Lemon Cream Chicken “Tenders”
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Inactive time: 30 minutes
- 2 chicken breasts
- Zest of 1 lemon (~2 tbs)
- 2 tbs rosemary
- 2 tbs sage
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 tbs butter
- 1 ½ cup heavy cream
- Slice chicken breasts on a diagonal into thin medallions or strips
- In a large bowl, mix together lemon zest, rosemary, sage, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil
- Add chicken and toss to coat
- Cover and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat
- Add chicken and cook for about 1-2 minutes per side, remove from pan and set aside
- Melt butter in the skillet
- Add heavy cream and any remaining marinade
- Bring contents to a boil
- Add chicken into the cream, cover, and cook in sauce for 8 minutes, turning about halfway through