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January 24, 2013

Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken with Basil Mashed Potatoes | Snapshots from a "Real" Tuesday Night Dinner | The Barefoot Contessa Project

Today I'm sharing "real" photos (as opposed to staged...) from a typical weeknight dinner at our house.  To be honest, I had planned taking "pretty" photos of this dinner the next day with our leftovers (as I normally do...) but we didn't have any!  How's that for an endorsement... 

So here is a little "slice of life" insight to what our house looks like on a typical Tuesday night. 

On most weeknights, Mike entertains Emma while I finish up dinner.  Here they are reading her new book.  

My sweet Emma.  She put her hat on by herself : )  

This quiet moment is followed by :

Laps around the dining room table chasing Mr. Darcy.

It is so fun to see them begin to really play with each other.  She as always been interested in him.  He has not always been extremely interested in her.  Until, that is, Emma got a giant bag of balls.  Mister loves balls.  Now, she hands him balls and he goes and hides them.  So cute to watch them plan.

Back to the kitchen with my camera.

Our Barefoot Contessa Project Continues :

I'd heard (through an associate at my jcrew...) that the Crispy Mustard Chicken in Foolproof was a little "mustardy."  So, I opted out of the mustard all together, but instead ramped up the lemon factor by using lemon juice and olive oil to coat the chicken (instead of brushing with dijon and white wine), then covering it in the garlic, panko, lemon zest, thyme, butter and oil mixture.  It was fabulous.  I made a white wine, butter and meyer lemon sauce to go over it - yum!!  Also, I accompanied it with something I'd been wanting to try for a while...

No, that is not a green breakfast smoothie.  That is the basil cream for the Basil Potato Puree.  I'd heard from Tessa (of Nine And Sixteen) that it was one of her family's favorites.  I'd been hesitant to try it, as Mike is not a huge fan of fresh basil (ugh...), but he agreed to try anything and everything during our Barefoot Project, so now was my chance.

Since this post is filled with side notes, I'll note that Tessa's new kitchen is so great.  You must look at it on her blog.  It is cozy and charming... making me rethink the plans for the new gleaming white kitchen we're planning.  It is also inspiring me to paint the cabinets in my current kitchen in Farrow & Ball's "old white" this weekend.  Shhh.  Don't tell Mike.  He'll think I'm ridiculous for wanting to "do anything else to this kitchen we're tearing out in less than a year."  I'm infamous for the projects I start while he's at work... or away for the weekend.

The recipe begins just as normal mashed potatoes, but instead of just adding milk and butter, you create a basil, parmesan cream mixture in the food processor (or blender, if you recently dropped and broke the bowl that goes to your food processor... when it was filled with Tuscan Mashed Chickpeas).  Then, after mashing the potatoes, you add the basil cream to create these fabulously flavored Basil Mashed Potatoes.

I love Meyer Lemons.  They really are more special than the average lemon - with a slightly sweeter juice and very thin skin.  You can definitely use normal lemons for this sauce, but splurge on the Meyers if the opportunity presents itself.
Meyer Lemon Sauce

1/2 cup of white wine
1 meyer lemon, juiced
1/4 cup of butter

Put the wine, lemon juice and butter in a skillet (or small saucepan) and cook on medium until it has reduced - about 10-15 minutes. 

Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken
adapted from Ina's Crispy Mustard Chicken from "Foolproof"

4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
sea salt
cracked black pepper
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 lemons, juiced
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the garlic, thyme, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the garlic is finely minced. Add the panko, lemon zest, olive oil, and butter and pulse a few times to moisten the bread flakes. Pour the mixture onto a large plate.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the juice of 2 lemons and 1/4 cup of olive oil.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle generously all over with salt and pepper. Dip each piece in the lemon olive oil mixture to coat on all sides and then into the crumb mixture, pressing gently to make the crumbs adhere. Place the chicken on a sheet pan.  Press the remaining crumbs on the chicken pieces.

Bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes, until the crumbs are browned and the chicken is cooked through. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

The Meyer Lemon Sauce drizzled over. 

The Chocolate Chip Blondes come out of the oven just as we're finished with dinner...

And Emma does laps around the ottoman!


  1. Oh wow - looks amazing. Emma is so sweet!

  2. This looks delicious! Will you confirm that you used skin on, boneless chicken breasts? Also did you pound the breasts out before coating them with the breadcrumb mixture? They look thinner than normal chicken breasts.

    1. Jenny1:16 PM

      Thank you, Joanna, I did not! I actually used boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I didn't pound out the chicken, but butterflied to make them thinner.

      I've updated the post with these corrections! Thanks!

  3. Jessica8:46 AM

    Very sweet to see a "real" weekday night at home and how you balance a little one with enjoying a wonderful adult meal! Your real meal photos are as fantastic as your styled photos. Have a great weekend!

  4. Anonymous8:56 AM

    I always like Emma updates and love her hat wonder if they make them for "grownups" :-)

  5. Oh. That looks delicious. I am making the flank steak tonight with the spinach, feta, pine nuts as a side. I can't believe I'm committed to grilling in this cold! Anything for a tasty dinner. Hope to see you soon! Sarah

  6. The reason why I love your blog is because it's so REAL! I love how you take pictures of your food right as you're making them at night with your little girl running around in the midst of it! Seems a lot more relevant to me than food blogs who take pictures of dinner food at 11am with no story to tell - whomp whomp. Thanks for always being real and honest with us and sharing great recipes!

  7. Emma the helper is so darling. This meal looks fantastic! I make basil mashed potatoes and they are so tasty and fresh! Have a lovely weekend.

  8. Anonymous2:29 PM

    Loving your "real" photos!

  9. hi jenny!!
    i'm so glad you tried those potatoes! i haven't made them in a while and seeing your pics is making me crave them. thank you for the sweet comments about our kitchen too. emma is an absolute sweetie-pie! enjoy your weekend!

  10. Hi Jenny!

    I made the Baked Crispy Lemon Chicken last night for dinner, and it was absolutely delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe. My husband and I will be making this dish many more times. :)

    Love your blog!

  11. Made this tonight ...amazing. Loved the lemon flavor.

  12. Hi there,

    I can't seem to find the recipe for the basil mashed potatoes --am I missing something? Thanks!


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