Many years ago, I was flipping through a Junior League cookbook from Palm Beach and I read the title for Lily Pulitzer Chicken. Before I even glanced at the recipe, I envisioned bright rounds of citrus like a Lily Pulitzer fabric. The recipe however was chicken in potato chip crumbs with dried herbs and wine. I think perhaps it is a recipe the actual Lily Pulitzer made not one inspired by her designs. But I couldn’t get that original image out of my head. I’ve tinkered over the years and I’ve finally come up with a dish to match that picture in my brain. Chicken breasts in a punchy, creamy citrus sauce covered in a blanket of sliced citrus, that indeed is reminiscent of the bright, bold, colorful fabrics Lily Pulitzer is famous for. And it is a perfect, sprightly, simple meal.
I use a blend of lovely citrus fruits, but any combination will do. I grate some zest from one half of each fruit, then slice some thin rounds to cover the top. Then I juice the remaining halves. If you have some extra juice, use it to make a vinaigrette, or better yet, a cocktail! I like to sauté a few slices and leave some raw for a contrast of texture and flavor. Tarragon adds a lovely note, but rosemary or thyme work equally as well. Brown the chicken well – the meat should lift easily from the bottom of the pan, if it sticks, let it cook a few more minutes. Scrape all the lovely browned bits up when you add the broth for extra flavor.
Palm Beach Chicken
1 large navel orange
1 medium grapefruit
1 – 2 lemons
4 chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
3 Tablespoons olive oil
5 green onions, white and some green parts, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup mixed citrus juice
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- Zest some rind from one half of each citrus fruit to produce about 1 Tablespoon zest. Cut the unzested halves into rounds, then juice the remaining halves to produce 1/2 cup juice.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the olive oil over medium high heat in a large oven safe skillet or braiser. Pat the chicken breasts dry and season well with salt and pepper. Place in the pan and brown on each side. The breasts should lift right up when they are nicely browned, if they are sticking wait a few more minutes. Remove the breasts to a plate when browned on each side. Add the green onions to the oil (you can add a drop more if needed) and sauté until soft and glassy. Add a couple of citrus slices (save a few for later) and cook until they are soft and a little browned. Remove them to the plate with the chicken. Add the broth and citrus juice and bring to a bubble, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until reduced to about ½ cup. Add the cream and butter cubes and stir to melt the butter. Stir in the zest and tarragon and bring to a bubble. Cook for a few minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened. Snuggle the chicken breasts into the pan, spooning some sauce over the top. Place a few of the cooked and raw citrus slices over and around the chicken and transfer to the oven. Cook until the chicken in cooked through, to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.