By America's Test Kitchen
There are several steps you can take to elevate lean chicken breasts for a weeknight meal. We started with a bold citrus vinaigrette. For an intense hit of citrus flavor, we used lemon juice enhanced with both lemon and orange zest. Then, pounding the chicken breasts to an even thickness ensured that they cooked at the same rate and stayed juicy.
A little cinnamon and cumin rubbed onto the chicken added deep flavor and the heady aroma of warm spice to the dish. Dredging the seasoned breasts in flour before searing protected their exteriors from becoming tough. Plus, the seared flour created a textured surface for the vinaigrette to cling to.
Slicing the cooked chicken before topping it with the vinaigrette made each bite well-seasoned. A sprinkling of cilantro added a fresh herbal counterpoint to finish the dish.
Spiced Citrus Chicken
Serves 4 to 6
For the vinaigrette:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons juice
1/4 teaspoon table salt
For the chicken:
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
1. Combine all the vinaigrette ingredients in bowl; set aside.
2. Combine salt, cumin, cinnamon and pepper in a small bowl. Spread flour in a shallow dish. Place the chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder, gently pound the thick part of the breasts to 3/4-inch thickness.
3. Sprinkle the spice mixture all over the chicken. Working with one breast at a time, dredge in flour, shaking off excess, and transfer to a large plate.
4. Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add chicken to the skillet and cook until well browned and registering 160 degrees, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes.
5. Slice chicken crosswise on bias and transfer to a serving platter. Stir dressing to recombine and spoon over chicken. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
Recipe note: Use a rasp-style grater to grate the citrus zest.
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Editor’s notes: We have made this dish. It was flavorful and zesty. I would suggest chicken thighs if you do not like breasts. I would also suggest making the vinaigrette well before you make the chicken so that the shallots (we used minced green onions because that is what we had) are saturated and the zest of the orange and lemon are robust. We used a mandarin orange instead of a traditional orange and it was tasty. Make sure you garnish with the cilantro too. I forgot for the first serving. The second serving was to die for.
We served quinoa and asparagus with our recipe and everyone loved it.