Using Creme Fraiche Part III: Amanda Hesser’s Lemon Chicken (with Walnut Green Beans)
OK, assuming that you used about 1/2 cup total of creme fraiche for Part I: Softly Scrambled Eggs and Part II: Sauteed Apple with Honey, you should be all set to finish off the container with this dish. And if not – who cares? This chicken is so obscenely delicious that it would totally be worth throwing away the rest of the container for! Bonus: It’s as easy as putting on lipstick, so tuck this in your back pocket for when your in-laws are in town and you want to impress. (But really, just make it tonight. So. Good.)
I asked the kind butchers at Whole Foods to bone – but leave the skin on – four chicken breast halves for me. All chicken breasts should have the skin on as far as I’m concerned – it’s the best part and makes for a much more tender piece of meat, and if you don’t want it, just toss it! But I’m in the minority here, as I am on most things, so you’ll have to either bone the breasts yourself or ask your butcher to do it for you. Of course you could make this dish with boneless, skinless breasts but…you’d miss the skin! Especially when it gets utterly, shatteringly crispy and golden brown, protecting the tender meat beneath.
The sauce is just lemon and creme fraiche. And oh, the golden bits from the pan, very important. Rich, creamy, addictively tangy – you can’t screw up this dish and can’t not adore it either.
The green beans are sadly the last of the season, at least here in Minnesota. I boiled them until just-tender and tossed them with a little walnut oil, toasted walnuts, and mushrooms sauteed in butter with shallots. It was all so pretty together. I will miss good green beans. Until next June…
The chicken? We’ll be eating it all winter!
Amanda Hesser’s Lemon Chicken
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 whole chicken legs with thighs attached (I used skin-on, boneless chicken breast halves)
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 c. creme fraiche
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. After 3 minutes, add the butter and oil. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, skin side down, in the skillet and brown well on both sides, turning once.
Transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a knife.
Return the skillet to the stove top. Transfer the chicken to a platter and keep warm. Remove all but 1 Tbsp. of fat from the skillet. Place over medium heat, add the lemon juice, and stir to scrape up any pan drippings. Simmer for 1 minute, then add the creme fraiche and lemon zest and stir until melted and bubbling. If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of water. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with additional pepper. Serve hot.