A lot of people, at least in my part of the world, seem to think that chicken is kinda boring and wouldn’t make for a suitable choice of protein to put on the menu of a sophisticated dinner. Me? I couldn’t disagree more.
Personally, I think that chicken can be absolutely brilliant, and I’ll take a super simple but crazy tasty chicken dish, such as this Lemon Sesame Pistachio Crusted Chicken, over an elaborate dish of beef tenderloin that was inadequately prepared… Overcooked Beef Wellington in Soggy Crust, anyone? No thanks, not for me…
Honestly, I think that chicken can be a solid contender, a safe yet satisfying option, one that will never let you down and that you can almost never go wrong with. Unlike most cuts of red meat, it will totally forgive you if you slightly over-cook it, and it can be flavored and prepared in countless numbers of ways, from the super simplistic to the more refined.
And this chicken dish right here is a dish that I wouldn’t hesitate, not even for a second, to serve on a special occasion. The meat itself is super tender and juicy; the spice blend, with the lemon zest, sesame seeds, ground cumin and chipotle powder, makes you feel like you’re on some dream vacation somewhere far, far away and the combination of all the textures in the crust makes every bite more interesting than the last.
All in all, I am positive that this very simple dish, once you’ve tried it, you’ll want to make all the time: for yourself, for your family and even for special guests.
Even if it’s JUST chicken…
To start, preheat the oven to 350°F. Then, in a shallow bowl or plate, combine:
- 1/4 cup shelled pistachios, very finely chopped
- 3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp chipotle powder
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- the grated zest of 1 lemon
Now simply mix everything together until well combined.
I’m telling you, this stuff already smells so incredibly good, you’ll probably want to eat it by the spoonful, before you’ve even had a chance to crust your chicken with it.
I strongly suggest that you keep your nostrils at a safe distance, so you don’t end up sprinkling this over your ice cream or something. Okay, I might be exaggerating a little, but seriously, I think that this is so deliciously flavorful, it should be made into an official spice blend.
Place the chicken breasts, one at a time, in the seasonings and cover them well with the mixture. Turn them around a few times, pressing on the seasonings lightly with your fingers to help it adhere to the chicken and reserve.
Don’t panic if some of the flesh is still exposed. This is not a breading, we’re just looking to give the chicken a nice, light ant tasty crust. You don’t want to be laying it on super thick here.
Heat a few tablespoons of healthy cooking oil (I’m a huge fan of avocado oil) over medium high heat in a large oven-safe saute pan, preferably one that has a fitting lid; you’ll be covering the chicken when you send it to the oven.
Once the pan is hot enough, add the chicken breasts, two at a time so as to not overcrowd the pan, and sear the breasts for a minute or two on each side, just until a nice golden crust develops.
Reserve the par-cooked chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining breasts.
Return the chicken to the skillet and arrange the pieces of lemon around it.
As it cooks, the lemon will release some of its juices, infusing much flavor into the meat and making it super tender and juicy, too!
Put the lid on and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, then uncover and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, or until the lemons are slightly caramelized and the chicken looks nice and crispy.
If you’re going to bring the dish directly to the table, garnish it with a handful of micro-greens. These guys never fail to make any dish beautiful. Well, savory dishes, anyway! Not sure they would go down all that well on fudgy brownies… (how shameful of me, I know! Sorry, my evil twin made me do it!)
When ready to plate, slice the chicken breasts on a diagonal and spoon some of the the delicious juices that accumulated at the bottom of the pan over the meat. These are sooo yummy, it would be a shame to let them go to waste!
And now… please go ahead and dig right in!
- 4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 900g | 2lb total)
- 2 lemons, quartered
- 2-3 tbsp cooking oil of your choice
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Combine all the ingredients for the crust in a shallow bowl or plate and mix until well combined.
- One at a time, place the chicken breasts in the seasonings and cover them well with the mixture. Turn them around a few times, pressing on the seasonings lightly with your fingers to help it adhere to the chicken and reserve.
- Heat a few tablespoons of healthy cooking oil over medium high heat in a large oven-safe saute pan equipped with fitting lid; once the pan is hot enough, add the chicken breasts, 2 at a time, and sear for a minute or two on each side, just until a nice golden crust develops. Reserve to a plate and repeat with the remaining breasts.
- Return the chicken to the skillet and arrange the pieces of lemon around the chicken. Put the lid on and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, then uncover and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, or until the lemons are slightly caramelized and the chicken looks nice and crispy.
- Slice the chicken breasts and spoon some of the the delicious juices that accumulated at the bottom of the pan over the meat.
- Serve immediately.