The Classic

There was a point a month or two ago when I heard or read the word “Einkorn about five times in the course of 24 hours. Never heard of it? Neither had I! This, in spite of the fact that the grain is 12,000 years old (shame on us) and, according to The New York Times “pleasingly chewy,” “nutty in flavor,” and suddenly popping up on premiere menus across the country. Sure enough, a few hours after reading this, I tuned into ATK Radio, to hear Christopher Kimball and Bridget Lancaster discussing the grain as though its audience was already up to speed on the stuff, working it into dinner rotations and party menus. At home later, I flipped through a stack of soon-to-be published cookbooks and found “Einkorn berries” in three indexes. Huh, I thought. Are Einkorn berries the new bone broth? Should I try it?

Eh. Maybe next week.

I love a good food trend. I don’t know what I would do or where I would be if kale and quinoa had never entered my family’s life. But the meals and recipes that regularly appear on our dinner table are not the ones that are necessarily trending on instagram.  (Please, dear Lord, no more #AvocadoToasts.) In fact — unless it’s Saturday or Sunday, days more conducive to adventure in my opinion — it’s usually the opposite: What’s on our table are usually recipes that I can picture my mother making in my childhood kitchen. The dish you see above is a really good example of that. It’s Pan-fried Chicken with Lemon, the most basic kind. I never tire of it. There are a few differences between her circa ’80s version and mine: I don’t think she ever pounded her chicken breasts to an even thickness, which, as far as I’m concerned is an absolute do-or-die step. Her version required no technical trickery because it was finished off in the oven, drizzled with a little heavy cream. It’s a little less than 12,000 years old, but I’m pretty sure it still qualifies as a classic.

Pan-fried Chicken with Asparagus and Lemon
I love serving this with skillet potatoes (below) which help drink up the lemony sauce, but if you don’t want to go to the trouble of dirtying two extra pots for them, feel free to just serve this with a crusty baguette instead.

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed of woody stems
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
4 chicken breasts (about 2 pounds), pounded to ½-inch thickness, and cut in half so each piece is roughly the size of a playing card (if not in actual shape, then at least surface area)
1/3 cup flour, salted and peppered
juice from one small lemon
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
chives

Set a large platter on the counter near the stovetop.

Add water to a large, deep-sided skillet, and bring to a boil. Add asparagus spears and cook 2 minutes. Using tongs, remove from water and immediately plunge into an ice bath to stop cooking and preserve bright green color. Remove from ice bath and chop into one-inch pieces. Add to your platter. Drain the water from the skillet and set back on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add oil.

Working with one breast at a time, dredge in flour, then add to the skillet. The pan should be hot enough so that the chicken sizzles upon contact. Continue with each breast, flipping each after about 3 minutes a side. Don’t crowd the pan. Once you finish with one breast, remove to the platter, then cook a breast that’s been waiting in the wings.

Once all chicken has been cooked through (they should feel firm to the touch, but not rock hard) and removed to the platter, return the heat to high, then add butter, lemon juice and chicken broth, scraping up any brown bits that might have collected on the surface of the pan. Cook until broth reduces and thickens slightly. turn off heat. At this point taste the sauce. If it’s too lemony, you might think about serving it on the side so the kids can take as little or as much as they want. If it tastes all right to you, drizzle over the entire platter and shower the whole thing with chives.

Quick Skillet Potatoes

Peel six or seven medium sized white or yellow potatoes and dice into 1-inch cubes. Cover with water in a medium pot, add a hefty pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes until potatoes are almost done. Drain. They do not have to be cooked all the way through. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a cast iron skillet and set over medium-high heat. Add potatoes so they are roughly in one layer. Much sizzling should ensue. Let the potatoes brown a bit without touching them for about five minutes. Toss, then after another few minutes, top with sea salt and serve with chicken and asparagus.

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17 Comments

The Prestigious School

Chicken and asparagus will always be a favorite at my house, and this version looks especially good. I appreciate that your recipes can be made and enjoyed on a weeknight. Sometimes my family doesn’t have the energy for an adventurous palete on a weeknight, and we all want something delicious and familiar. Thank you!

Reply
Lucy

This sounds simple and delicious! I love ATK Radio, too. Have you checked out Hugh Acherson’s new cookbook? There is a similar recipe with morel mushrooms. Looks devine.

I’m a fellow Westchester food blogger and first time commenter. Love your site!

Reply
Dana

One easy trick for faux skillet potatoes is to dice the potatoes, soak them in water and sea salt as long as time allows(20 min minimum) then drain, dry, toss with olive oil, sea salt and a couple of crushed garlic cloves then roast in 400 degrees oven for 30 min. Delicious!

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Jennifer P

Loved this. Made a few minor changes. Used Trader Joe’s frozen chicken tenderloins (no flattening) and they worked really well. Also added a little duck fat to fry the potatoes in, it was wonderful. I also did a quick sauté of the asparagus just before pouring the sauce over, because they sat so long they were a bit cold. This is going to be added to our regular rotation!!

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Cali @ Cali's Cuisine

Classic! I also have memories of my mother’s fried chicken. I attempted to make it one time and failed miserably. I now consider it a sacred dish. Your recipe has enough tweaks in it that I may muster up enough courage to give it a try again. Thank you for sharing!

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christi in ma

this blog post inspired tonight’s dinner, thank you Jenny! I had sweet potatoes and romanesco on hand so used that instead. A super fast and delicious weeknight supper. My husband liked it so much I’m making the chicken again tonight with a different side.

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Charlie Cook

This looks incredible! I love classic and relatively simple meals like this one. And despite this being “just” a classic that perhaps we should all know how to make, it is still a nice reminder and some insight into how other people prepare classics like pan-fried chicken and quick skillet potatoes. I’ll have to rotate this back into our meal rotation :) – Charlie, http://www.lemonbutterlove.com

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Ronda

I love these classic meals. So much flavor and just good food. Though I have to say that I do love me some Avocado Toast for those nights it is just me.

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Helena

And here I was thinking ‘but will the children like lemon on the chicken? One of them yes, but not too much. The other one is a complete no-way-Jose…’ I should’ve had more faith and read through the recipe, because obviously there will be a tip for reconstruction. Thanks, this will be dinner tomorrow! Just with garlicky green beans as that’s what I have in the fridge. One portion with no garlic, naturally.

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Sarah

YES YES YES! I cannot handle these trends… I can tell you I am not going to start mixing matcha into all my nut milks and start subbing all my carbs for zoodles and spaghetti squash. I am all about keeping it classic.. with the occasional unique ingredient to spice things up. This chicken dish looks perfect, btw. :)

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Nicole @ thejameskitchen

Jenny,
re trying Einkorn: You might have already eaten Einkorn a few times depending on what kind of farro you’ve been buying. Emmer and Einkorn are the German names for these ancient grains and are called farro medio (emmer) or farro piccolo in Italian. So, If you have been buying farro in the past most likely it was Emmer or if smaller: Einkorn (literally translated into one kernel). To complete the farro story: spelt (Dinkel in German) is commonly known as farro grande in Italy.
Farro salad would really work well with this charming classic chicken, too… Nicole

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Liz

Jenny – you alwasy make me feel so much better about life! I can’t wait to make this one!!!

My kids have been on an eating strike recently, all I can get in them is frozen pizza, snacks, and vegetarian chicken nuggets. I felt like our dinners were starting to regress. I decided to make your Chicken & Orzo soup to reset the scale. I know they will always happily eat two bowls and each will tell me that I am an “amazing cooker” – thank you for becoming my family’s touchstone and giving us dinners that can make me feel good “on a cosmic level” when I really need it!

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Suzanne Martin

This is why I love your blog. Doable & Delicious. Thank you. Suzanne

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