Dr. Sheldon’s Recipes – Crispy Chicken Breasts with Lemon and Capers

Dr. Sheldon’s Recipes – Crispy Chicken Breasts with Lemon and Capers

While in medical school and residency, I probably lived off 12 recipes I had picked up from my mother and Trader Joe’s frozen food. It wasn’t until after I got married that I started teaching myself how to cook. Besides the usual pots and pans we received as wedding gifts, was a set of William Sonoma cookbooks (copyright 1993). The recipe below is a slightly modified version of one from the cookbook set entitled Chicken and I’ve been making it for 20 years. There are lots of similar recipes out there, some with mustard, some with parmesan cheese, but this remains the simplest and my favorite.

Crispy Chicken Breasts with Lemon and Capers (serves 4)

  • 4 small to medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 egg
  • 1 TBSP water
  • 1/2 tsp of salt (or more)
  • freshly grated pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs (regular or Panko)
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 TBSP olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon (or more) and the other half sliced
  • 4 TBSP drained capers
  1. Using a knife, carefully butterfly each chicken breast into 2 separate pieces. (To butterfly, hold the chicken breast flat against the cutting board. Then, carefully, slice through the middle of the breast with your knife cutting between your hand and the cutting board.) Place each piece between wax paper or saran wrap and pound gently until it’s about 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Set up 3 shallow bowls. Put the flour in one and season with the salt and pepper. Beat the egg with the water in the second bowl. Put the bread crumbs with the thyme leaves in the third.
  3. One at a time, dip each chicken piece in the flour and shake off the excess. Then dip in the egg and shake off the excess. Lastly dip it in the bread crumbs and shake off the excess. Put each cutlet on a plate or cookie sheet. (Ideally, if you have time, put cutlets in the refrigerator for an hour. This helps the breading adhere, but it’s not strictly necessary.)
  4. Preheat oven to 175-200 degrees. Heat 2 TBSP oil in a deep sauté or frying pan and heat over medium heat. Once the oil gets shimmery, add the cutlets in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Then transfer to an oven-safe plate and keep warm in the oven. Add the rest of the oil as needed to keep a shimmery layer at the bottom of the pan and continue to cook until all the cutlets are finished. (Note, if you’re too lazy to butterfly or you didn’t pound thin enough, sometimes the insides of the chicken cutlet are not cooked enough after cooking on the stove as above. No big deal: just heat your oven to 350 degrees and give them another 2-4 minutes and the insides will be perfect.)
  5. Sprinkle a little more salt/pepper as needed over the cutlets, then squeeze the lemon juice over the cutlets and sprinkle with the capers. Serve immediately.


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