5 Ingredients or Fewer

Chicken in Butter

February  9, 2017
7 Ratings
Photo by Emiko
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

Inspired by Elizabeth David's description for 'Florentine chicken breast' from “Italian Food” (1954) and the signature dish of Trattoria Sostanza in Florence, I can't emphasise how important it is for such a simple dish to obtain top quality ingredients. I recommend using organic, non-factory farmed chicken, so that it's as tender as can be, and unsalted butter. Try a European-style cultured butter (note: You can find locally made European-style butter too, it doesn't necessarily mean that it has to be from Europe!). If you really wanted to add something else here, you could dip the floured chicken breasts in a beaten egg, as they do in Sostanza, or throw in some fresh sage leaves together with the chicken or a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the sauce just before serving. However, simplicity is part of the beauty of this dish. —Emiko

What You'll Need
  • 2 organic chicken breast fillets
  • Salt and pepper, for seasoning
  • Flour, for dusting
  • 3.5 ounces (7 tablespoons or 100 grams) good quality, unsalted butter, chilled
  1. Heat the oven to 160ºC/320ºF.
  2. Rub salt and pepper into both sides of the chicken breast and dust lightly in flour until coated all over.
  3. Melt about two-thirds of the butter in a heatproof skillet (cast iron is ideal) over medium-high heat. When it begins to bubble, add the chicken breast. Cook until the chicken begins to brown on that side, about 2-3 minutes. Watch it for another moment, the butter too should brown and when it's a caramelized, hazelnut color, turn the chicken, add the rest of the cold butter, cover with a heatproof lid or aluminum foil and place the pan in the oven for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 more minutes under some aluminum foil to keep warm. Taste the butter sauce for seasoning and serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • natalie
  • Can I have a bite?
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  • I use a Replicator!
    I use a Replicator!
  • Emiko

6 Reviews

Kevin K. June 22, 2023
No. Just no. This is not how Tuscan butter chicken is made at Trattoria Sostanza. The chicken is pounded to an even thickness of ~3/4 inch, salt and peppered, then dredged lightly in flour THEN dipped in beaten egg. Then entire cooking process takes place on the stove - no oven.
Emiko June 23, 2023
Hi Kevin, thanks for your contribution. I have called Florence home since 2005 and I have been a regular at Sostanza since then (I have been in their kitchen and written about this restaurant in countless guides), so I am very familiar with how they do their butter chicken today. However, as explained in the headnote, this recipe is inspired by Elizabeth David's now 70 year old recipe for chicken in butter - it is from her cookbook Italian Food, which was published in 1954 and is, I think, an extremely valuable and interesting reference for historical recipes.
natalie October 30, 2020
This was so delicious! I needed to use a chicken breast I had in the oven and was looking for a simple recipe to make on weeknight. This blew me away.
Can I. October 6, 2018
This is one of my go-to recipes when I'm cooking just for me. Simple, delicious and comforting.
I U. March 17, 2017
Heat the bowl/plate because no one likes liquid butter when it cools. Also, you can thin out the butter a bit by adding a small amount of chicken broth.
Saffron3 February 14, 2017
One of my clients eats a lot of plain chicken. I found a recipe where one used butter and soy sauce, both unsalted/low sodium cooked much this way. It was delicious. This has more butter, no soy, and I'm going to cook this ASAP.
Mind, the plain chicken isn't about fats, it's more about the being of plain. Very zen, I suspect making not much sense. However, this is delicious!