Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lidia Love

Breast of Chicken in a Light Lemon-Herb Sauce

So, I’m a total fangirl of Lidia Bastianich.

Her cooking programs air on PBS. Her cookbooks rock my world.

But, I kind of feel like she could be my aunt or some other maternal figure in my realm who would teach me amazing culinary feats on a daily basis while telling me tales of the olden days and walking uphill both ways in the snow for 10 miles.

One day, I hope to get to see her live and in person.

No, I’m not a stalker. And if stalking a celebrity were an option for moi the subject would be: Bono (circa 1985, because the 2010 Bono gets on my nerves), Nigella Lawson (because she is so my inspiration), Tim Gunn (well, we would go shopping together, no doubt, and then hang out in my closet) and Anthony Bourdain (obviously, much boozing would go down in that scenario.)

But back to Lidia.

She’s actually been in my neck of the woods on occasion. No, not actually in Hammonton, the Blueberry Capital of the World and the U.S. Town with the Highest Percentage of Italians Per Capita. I’m not making those claims to fame up. Seriously.

Lidia has come to Philadelphia and Atlantic City to promote her books and to talk to the peeps and meet the fans. I live 30 minutes from both Philly and A.C.

And I have NEVER attended an appearance.

(Hanging head low, low, lowly in major Catholic Italian shame.)

I have good reason, I suppose: Work.

Lidia always comes this way on Sunday or on weeknights, and well – that’s when I’m jammin’ with my amazing piano students. A few years ago, I was also tied to my desk in the newsroom at all hours of the day, so again no meeting with my fav Italian cookbook goddess/author. She’s also visited when The Husband and the Jersey Girl have been on vacay.

And nothin’s gonna stop us from vacay. For reals.

But, one day, dear readers. One day we will not be star-crossed, Lidia and her long-lost South Jersey niece/goddaughter/disciple who she does not know.

Until then, I will read all her cookbooks from cover to cover and watch her programs and visit her Web site.

Today, please check out an amazing Lidia recipe: Breast of Chicken in a Light Lemon-Herb Sauce.

I make this all the time. You can set all the components up in advance, and then bake it when it’s getting close to din din time. Yeah. You heard me. I said, “din din.”

The recipe is from one of my most prized cookbooks, “Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen.”

The recipes are fantastic, and Lidia explains her techniques and procedures clearly and concisely. It’s really worth the bucks.

And when I meet her, she will sign it for me and maybe we can roll gnocchi together and make some sauce and drink some vino, and she will pinch my cheeks and tell me how much I’ve grown and that I look just like my mother.

Breast of Chicken in a Light Lemon-Herb Sauce
From “Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen”
By Lidia Matticchio Bastianich

6 boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves (about 5 ounces each)
½ cup fine, dry bread crumbs
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 ½ tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken stock or canned reduced sodium chicken broth
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tsp. crushed hot red pepper
4 cloves garlic, peeled

Cut each chicken breast half in half crosswise on a diagonal, to yield two pieces of roughly equal size. Place two pieces at a time between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound gently with the flat side of a meat mallet or the bottom of a small, heavy saucepan to flatten them slightly, to about ½ inch thick.

Toss the bread crumbs, 1 Tbsp. of olive oil, 1 Tbsp. of the chopped parsley, ½ tsp. of the oregano and salt to taste in a bowl until blended. Spread 1 tsp. of bread-crumb mixture over each piece of chicken, reserving the remaining crumbs. Roll each chicken piece into a compact shape with the bread crumbs running in a spiral through the center and fasten securely with a toothpick.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.

Arrange the filled chicken breasts side by side in a 13 x 9-inch, preferable flameproof baking dish. (There should be some space between the pieces of chicken.) Stir the wine, stock, lemon juice, hot pepper, the remaining 3 Tbsp. Olive oil, the remaining teaspoon of oregano and salt to taste together in a small bowl. Pour into the baking dish. Whack the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and scatter them among the chicken pieces. Bake 10 minutes.

Top the chicken with the remaining bread-crumb mixture. Return to the oven and bake until the bread-crumb topping is golden brown, about 5 minutes.

If the roasting pan is flameproof, place it directly over medium high heat, add the remaining 2 Tbsp. parsley and bring the pan juices to a boil. Boil until lightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. (If the roasting pan is not flameproof, transfer the chicken rolls to a warm platter and pour the juices into a skillet before bringing them to a boil.)Remove the garlic cloves, or leave them in if you like. Gently transfer the chicken pieces to plates with a slotted spoon. Pull the toothpicks from the chicken without loosening the bread-crumb topping. Pour the sauce around, not over, the chicken pieces and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Please note: The Jersey Girl uses Cento breadcrumbs.


  1. I love Lidia too, especially when she eats what she cooked at the end of the show. I love watching her describe the flavor and I'm always waiting for her big fork-filled nosh to fall on her chest, just like it would happen to my mom.

  2. I am a huge fan of Lidia. I met her at a book signing at Barnes and Noble 4 years ago. I also went to her restaurant, Becco 3 years ago. It's not far from NJ, it's in NY! I've made this recipe before also and it's fantastic! (PS - I'm from NJ too)

  3. Hi Michele! It's awesome to read your comments. Thank you for checking out my blog.

    I'm so jealous that you met Lidia.

  4. Michele! Your blog is AWESOME. I love it. It's so cute. Thank you so much for coming here, because now I follow your blog and I really love it. I will totally try some of your recipes. xoxox S.