Lemony, buttery, and quick to come together, this Italian-American classic is easy enough for a weeknight, but special enough for company. Serve with buttered noodles or lots of bread for sopping up the sauce. —Emma Laperruque
2 to 4
kosher salt, plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
unsalted butter, chopped into tablespoons, divided
lemon, sliced into very thin wheels (use the other lemon half for juice)
vegetable oil (or another high-heat, neutral-flavor oil), divided
barely chopped parsley
In This Recipe
Stir together the flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl or rimmed plate.
Toss 3 tablespoons of the butter in the flour; set aside on a plate. Now dredge the lemon slices in the flour and set aside on the same plate. Finally, dredge the chicken breasts in the flour and set aside on a separate plate.
Combine the wine, water, and lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup.
Now we’re ready to get cooking! Set a very large skillet (preferably *not* nonstick) over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or just enough to create a thin film on the bottom of the pan). When the oil is very hot and shimmery, add the floured lemon slices. (I like to add only one at first—if it doesn’t loudly sizzle, the oil isn’t hot enough.) Fry the lemon slices for 2 to 3 minutes, flipping halfway, until the lemons start to brown and get crispy. Turn off the heat and transfer the lemons to a plate.
Discard any remaining oil in the pan and give it a quick wipe. Return the skillet to the stove over medium-high heat. Add another 2 tablespoons of oil and the remaining 2 non-floured tablespoons of butter. Once the butter has totally melted and the pan is very hot, add the dredged chicken breasts. (Like with the lemons, the first contact between chicken and pan should loudly sizzle.) Cook for about 3 minutes per side, until well browned. Turn off the heat and transfer the chicken breasts to a plate.
Discard about 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pan (no need to be super exact here), but take care to leave all those browned bits on the bottom right where they are. Return to the skillet to the stove over medium heat and add the wine, water, and lemon juice mixture. Bring to a simmer. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits stuck to the bottom and gently stir to incorporate. Simmer for about 4 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced to 1 to 1 1/4 cups.
Add the 3 tablespoons of floured butter to the pan. Swirl until completely melted. Return the browned chicken breasts to the pan (along with any juices they left behind) and bring back to a simmer. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway, until each piece is cooked through. If some pieces are significantly smaller or thinner than others, just remove those from the pan while the others finish up, then return to the pan before garnishing.
When all the chicken is cooked and the sauce is as thick as you’d like, turn off the heat. Taste the pan sauce. It probably needs some salt, but you be the judge. Top the chicken with the fried lemons, parsley, and a generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper.
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing stories about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now, she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter.