I always thought lime-based chicken dishes to be a bit too tart for my tastes. This skillet chicken with creamy lime sauce is an exception. The addition of a small amount of cream and butter at the end, smooths out any astringency from the limes. It turns the sauce into lush and savory creaminess, but without the heaviness. Herbed rice perfectly accompanies this refreshing main dish.
I knew it was a keeper when even my most finicky of daughters helped herself to seconds.
Making Skillet Chicken with Creamy Lime Sauce
Cut 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lbs.) into ‘chicken finger’-type shape.
TIP: If any chicken pieces are uneven in thickness, pound them down until they are all even (doing this ensures even cooking).
Place pieces on a paper-towel lined plate to absorb surface moisture.
Combine 1/2 teaspoon each of chili powder and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.
Slice 1 lime into 5 or 6 medallions, discarding both ends. Heat a large skillet on medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add 1 TBSP of olive oil and turn heat to medium-high. When oil begins to swirl on the surface but is not yet smoking, add the lime slices.
Cook for 2 minutes and flip.
Continue to do this until the limes look browned (about 5-6 minutes):
Heat a large skillet on medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add 2 TBSPS olive oil and turn heat to medium-high. As oil heats up, blot also the top of the chicken pieces with paper towels to absorb surface moisture.
TIP: Make sure the chicken pieces are as dry as possible. The reason you want to remove as much surface moisture as possible is because it will interferes with the cooking process and the results won’t be as tasty because the chicken pieces won’t have browned as needed. In geek-speak, by reducing moisture we are doing our best not to interfere with the Maillard reaction (the chemical reaction that happens between amino acids and sugars at certain high temperatures. It is what gives us that spectacular umami, or pleasantly savory, flavor to our food).
TIP: Work in 2-3 batches when cooking the chicken. The pieces will brown better because the steam from the cooking chicken will have space to escape. Cramming a pan with the chicken ends up mostly steaming it, which is not as flavorful.
Once the oil surface begins to swirl but it is not yet smoking, sprinkle some salt on the first batch of chicken pieces and add them, salted side down, to the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes, flip and cook the other side for 2-3 minutes. Both sides need to be nicely browned.
Remove chicken from skillet, place on warmed plate and tent tightly with aluminum foil to keep warm. Repeat process for second (and third) batch of chicken pieces.
Add 2 shallots or half of a small red onion, finely minced, and a pinch of salt to the skillet. Cook for two minutes.
Stir, scraping up any browned bits on bottom of the skillet left behind from browning the meat.
Add 1 cup chicken broth and 5 TBSP fresh lime juice (generally 2 limes). Bring to a boil and then lower heat to medium-low.
Simmer gently, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes until the liquid reduces to about a ¼ cup. Add 3 TBSPs heavy cream, 2 TBSPs unsalted butter, and 1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce and stir until butter has melted.
Return the chicken pieces to the skillet and cook until warmed through, about 3 minutes. Serve chicken with sauce spooned on top. Add a handful of optional chopped fresh cilantro if desired.
Makes 4 servings.