lemon chicken fail

…okay, it wasn’t exactly a failure, but it wasn’t entirely delicious either.

We made dinner for some good friends yesterday. Bringing dinner is a great excuse to meet a new baby. You get to feed the new parents and catch up on things, and they let you coo over the new arrival. (Who was, incidentally, adorable.)

Thinking that bright flavors would be welcome on a warm day, I made a recipe for lemon chicken that I’d been meaning to try, and accompanied it with lemon snap peas and curried apple couscous. Everything turned out well except the lemon sauce for the chicken, which was… interesting. The table gave the lemon chicken a resounding “it’s okay,” as in, “if I ordered it at a restaurant, I’d finish it, but I wouldn’t necessarily order it again.” The women seemed to like it more than the men. Fortunately we’d brought the sauce in a separate container, and our friends scrounged up some alternate sauces: barbecue sauce and a tiny bottle of habanero salsa.

Other than using boneless skinless breasts, I followed the recipe exactly. The chicken was moist and tasty (in part because K had put it in a brine all day), but the sauce was a disappointment. The blog entry accompanying the recipe calls the sauce “bright,” but I’d call it “sour.” The sourness from the lemon juice and the tang of the creme fraiche combined for a taste that had K shaking his head and saying, “Don’t make this for me again.” (K tells it like it is.)

The sauce wasn’t great by itself, but I found it was better when accompanied by the salt and pepper on the chicken. The new mother and I mopped up the lemon sauce with the chicken while the men made good use of the substitute sauces. The lemon snap peas were just quickly boiled and tossed with a bit of butter and some lemon zest, and the curried apple couscous was flavorful and tasty as always. The couscous is adapted from this recipe, in that I left out the pine nuts and mint, used vegetable stock in place of water, and used Israeli couscous instead of regular. I like the bigger grains.

The lemon chicken recipe wasn’t great, but it was easy. I would even make it again, if someday I find myself with lemons, creme fraiche, and chicken, and (most importantly) it’s a night when K has other dinner plans. Though next time, I’d use significantly less lemon juice in the sauce.

6 thoughts on “lemon chicken fail

  1. Mmm lemon chicken…

    Pat had some awesome lemon chicken at Mama Lucia’s last week and wanted me to try playing with recipes to find something close. I made this on Friday – http://www.food.com/recipeprint.do?rid=206632, substituting vermouth for the white wine, since that’s what I had on hand. I mixed the sauce into angel hair pasta and added in some roasted red peppers (from a jar) at the end, since that was how ML had served it. The sauce was a little bitter, but after adding a tbl of unsalted butter and the red peppers, it brightened nicely. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough sauce for the noodles.

    I tried it again yesterday with catfish instead of chicken, and instead of 1/2c chicken broth, I used 1/4c clam juice and upped the vermouth to 3/4 cup. Pat said that this was closer, but that it wasn’t lemony enough. Of course, that was my fault because I forgot to double the lemon and egg at the end! Unfortunately the parsley didn’t work in it at all. Against the other flavors, it seemed too… fresh? It just tasted out of place.

    I’m thinking that when I try it with chicken again, I’ll double the lemon and egg and try 1/4c chicken broth and 3/4c vermouth. But I’m keeping the peppers, because those were a total win.

    • It’s interesting that egg is used as the sauce thickener instead of a cream-based substance like creme fraiche or mascarpone. I’d definitely want to try that technique. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of roasted red peppers, either, but I can see how they’d work well with the flavors.

      It’s also neat to read the process of how you messed with the ingredients and the method. The catfish with lemony clam sauce sounds fantastic!

  2. I hadn’t used egg as a thickener before, but I liked the way it worked with the lemon. I’d read in other recipes that use egg in the sauce to turn down the heat and whisk constantly so that it doesn’t scramble, and I’m glad I’d read that, because it wasn’t in this recipe and that could have been bad.
    And now that I think about it, it’s probably the clam juice that didn’t work with the parsley, because the parsley was fine with the chicken broth. But with the fish, I think I’d still use the clam juice, with its briney, salty flavor, and skip the parsley.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.