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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chicken Villaggio

This is one of our favorite recipes ever.  EVER.  I've been making this one for nearly 8 years, and that's saying something.  A lot of recipes come into vogue at our house for a couple of years and then fall out of favor, but this is one of the few that's lasted.  Easy, tasty, low-carb, versatile, quick-cooking, freezable, inexpensive...what isn't good about this recipe?  Although you gotta like lemon.

I bought a big package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs on sale this week for another recipe that only needed about 1/2 the package.  This is what I'm doing with the extra chicken.  I already had packages of pepperoni frozen from a sale several weeks ago and just needed to pick up 3 lemons to turn this out.  Shopping magic!

Note on breasts vs. thighs: I really think you need to use thighs for this recipe.  I've tried chicken breasts because my husband, known hereafter as The Princess, used to claim that he would only eat white meat.  It comes out criminally dry.  If you're going to ask an animal to give up its life so that you can eat, the least you can do is prepare it properly and with dignity.  Using chicken breasts here does not meet that standard IMHO.  If it's more important to you to use white meat than to eat a meal that tastes good, by all means, sub in breasts.  Rant over.

Chicken Villaggio (serves 6)

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6)
3 lemons
3 oz. pepperoni (any kind you like)
black pepper

Zest the lemons.  Put the zest aside for the moment.  Then cut away the white part so that you have the whole lemon peeled down to the flesh.  Either cut the segments out or just dice up the lemon flesh.  Put the diced lemon in a small zip-top bag.

Combine the thighs, lemon zest, pepperoni and black pepper to taste in a zip-top bag.  Mush it all around, making sure none of the pepperoni slices stick together.  Marinate at least 24 hours, if you're going to cook this without freezing.  Otherwise put the bag of chicken and the bag of diced lemon into a larger zip-top bag and freeze (don't put the lemon into the chicken bag, tempting though that is, since once it's time to cook, the lemon bag will be all raw-chicken-y).

To cook: Thaw.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Dump the contents of the chicken bag into the skillet, NO OIL NEEDED, making sure the chicken is in good contact with the bottom of the pan.  Sauté 10 minutes on the first side, flip all the chicken pieces and as much of the pepperoni as you can manage, and sauté for 10 minutes more.  Add the diced lemon and cook another 3-5 minutes until the pan juices thicken a bit. 

I don't have a picture of the finished dish because it is still sitting in my freezer.  I'll update when I make it.

UPDATE: The particular brand of chicken I bought this time released a lot of water as it thawed.  I had to drain the pan a couple of times to get a good sizzle going, and alas, the chicken didn't brown as much as I usually like.  But here are the pictures!

First side

Second side, with lemons added

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