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
organic chicken breast fillets
Salt and pepper, for seasoning
Flour, for dusting
(7 tablespoons or 100 grams) good quality, unsalted butter, chilled
Rub salt and pepper into both sides of the chicken breast and dust lightly in flour until coated all over.
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.
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.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.