My friend Merriam-Webster defines simplicity as:
- the state of being simple, uncomplicated or uncompounded
- lack of subtlety or penetration
- freedom from pretense or guile
- directness of expression
- restraint in ornamentation
In most things, I would never be associated with any of those definitions. On my best days, I am anything but simple or uncomplicated. But when it comes to cooking, I am consistently drawn to recipes that are simple, direct, and even restrained. Maybe it’s an attempt to bring a small bit of balance into my life. Or maybe it’s just that I don’t buy into the notion that all good things come at a high price whether that be monetary or otherwise.
Sometimes the biggest payoffs come from the smallest investments. A warm smile, an unrestrained hug, a genuine apology. None of these have a huge cost but can be powerful. So too can simple flavors, like lime. If lime juice were the equivalent of a polite handshake from an acquaintance, then lime zest would be a big bear hug from a good friend. Seriously.
It has the power to transform average into extraordinary, to make your taste buds come alive and sing with delight. Is it a coincidence that people talk about having a zest for life? I think not. Zest is uncomplicated and unpretentious, concentrated and intense. The essence of the thing, if you will. And a little goes a long way. Talk about a good return on your investment.
I wish all things in life could be so simple.
Chicken with Lime Butter
The Washington Post
I added the lime zest to the Post’s original recipe. They recommend serving this with sauteed carrots or green beans. I paired it with Alton Brown’s Ginger Glazed Carrots.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed of tenderloins and excess fat
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil (I edited this down from the original 3 to 4 tablespoons in WaPo’s recipe)
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- zest of one lime
- 3 to 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon minced chives, plus more for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for about 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Use tongs to turn chicken over and cook for 1 minute or until lightly browned on the other side.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the chicken is firm to the touch and its internal temperature taken with an instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover loosely with foil.
Drain any excess juices and fat from the skillet, then return skillet to the stove top (remember, the handle of your skillet is going to be HOT). Add the lime juice and zest and heat over medium-low heat. Add the butter, stirring or whisking constantly until melted, to form an almost opaque sauce. Remove from the heat, add the herbs, and stir to combine.
Spoon sauce over each chicken breast and serve.