My mother was a very good cook. It was her love for cooking and food that helped shape my cooking skills and love for food. Her way of teaching me to cook was for me to sit with her in the kitchen and watch. And then the next time she made the dish, she would let me get involved in one or two of the steps: mixing, adding seasoning or slicing, etc. If I kept her company often enough, I was pretty much involved in making all aspects of the dish… Just not at once.
There is a chicken dish that she made pretty often and for holidays. It was her signature dish. She was a different kind of cook than I am, as she often used pre-mixed packets, mixes and bottled sauces and mixed them in with her own blend of dry and wet ingredients. For her signature chicken dish, she would mix in a brown mushroom gravy packet with her lemon juice, white wine and mushroom sauté. Except when she made the dish for Passover, because then, the flour in the packet was “off limits” for holiday. And it was this version that I loved more than her original because it had more of a lemony flavor. And it’s the version I make today.
This dish calls for breading and pan fry thinly sliced chicken cutlets. I slice a half chicken breast into 3-4 pieces length-wise. You can use breadcrumbs or the less glutinous Einkorn Flour, which works quite well, or if you are making it during Passover, matzo meal. The matzo meal actually gives the chicken a nice thicker coating than the breadcrumbs which holds up really well in this dish.
The chicken gets cooked twice in this recipe. First, pan-fried, then baked with the mushroom sauté and some chicken stock. For the pan-fry alt and pepper the chicken then dip it into an egg wash and then into seasoned matzo meal, breadcrumbs or Einkorn Flour. When all the chicken has been coated, heat the oil in a pan on the stovetop and pan fry for 3 minutes on each side, until the coating is a bit browned. I use about 3/4 cup of olive oil for 3 lbs of chicken, adding a little at a time so that the chicken doesn’t absorb more oil than necessary. When the chicken is a bit browned on each side, transfer to a baking dish and repeat with the remaining chicken.
To make the mushroom sauté, add to the same pan that was used to pan fry the chicken, the remaining oil, sliced shallots, garlic, and sauté for a minute, Then add the mushrooms and parsley. I use a mix of white, portobello and shitake mushrooms, but you can use any mixture that you like. Add the salt and pepper and sauté until the mushrooms are soft. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, then add the lemon juice and zest. Cook for about 5 minutes until the liquids blend. Pour mushroom sauce over the chicken, and then add the stock. Cover and bake in a preheated oven at 375° for 50 minutes.
If you are making this dish ahead, pan fry the chicken and store in a separate container. Then make the mushroom sauté and store that in a separate container. When you’re ready to bake, add the chicken to the ovenproof dish, then top with the mushrooms mixture and add the stock. Cover the dish and bake.
Judy’s Chicken – Chicken with Mushrooms and Lemon
For the chicken:
3lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
1.5 cups matzo meal
¼ cup parsley
2 eggs plus 1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper
1 cup vegetable or olive oil
For the mushroom sauté:
¾ lb mushrooms – you can use any kind. I use a mix of white, shiitake and portobello
½ lb shallots, thinly sliced
¾ cup chopped parsley
3-4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
¾ cup lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup white wine
1 ¼ cup chicken stock
Slice the chicken breasts thinly so that you get 3-4 pieces per half breast. Salt and pepper the chicken. Add 2 eggs plus ½ cup water to a dish and mix through. Add matzo meal and ¼ cup parsley to another dish and mix through. Dip chicken into egg wash then coat with matzo meal. Set on a plate. When you have finished coating all pieces of chicken, heat a sauté plan with ¼ cup of oil and pan fry the chicken in batches, about 3 minutes on each side, until they start to brown slightly. You will need to add the remaining oil in batches – ¼ cup at a time – as you cook the rest of the chicken. Put pan-fried chicken in an ovenproof pan.
When all the chicken has been pan-fried, add remaining oil to (you will have about ½ cup. Add garlic and shallots 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and remaining 3/4 cup parsley and sauté 1 minute. Then add mushrooms and sauté until soft – this will take a few minutes. When mushrooms are cooked through, add 1/2 cup white wine and deglaze pan, then add the lemon juice and zest. Cook for about 5 minutes until the liquids blend. Pour mushroom sauté over the chicken, and then add the stock. Cover and bake in a preheated oven at 375° for 50 minutes.