When traveling to Costa Rica with my family this summer, we stopped by possibly the best restaurant in Costa Rica, Lemon Zest. A few of us ordered “the chicken” dish (they only have a few select items on their menu, and with good reason–they are perfected). Not knowing what to expect from this small little American family-run restaurant, we were pleasantly surprised with our meal.
The chicken came with some pretty red cabbage that looked like purple flowers (can’t really tell with this picture). It was lightly breaded with a balsamic reduction, and topped with tomatoes, red onions, basil, and mozzarella.
So far my Mom, my sister (who doesn’t cook complicated meals–that says something), and I (with my boyfriend’s culinary assistance) all tried to re-create this dish because it was so delicious. I may have come closest to the original, but can not get my chicken to be as tender and juicy (any hints or suggestions are welcome!).
Lemon Zest Famous Chicken Recipe Re-Creation:
- 1/2 Head red cabbage, cut
- 1/2 Red onion, sliced
- 4 Red tomatoes, sliced
- 1/4 C. Fresh basil
- 6 oz. Fresh mozzarella (can be reduced fat), sliced
- 1 C. Balsamic vinegar
- 2 TB. Sugar
- 1 TB. Chopped garlic
- 1 tsp. Lemon zest plus juice of 1/2 lemon
- 6 Kalamata olives pitted and finely chopped
- 1 TB Dried oregano
- 1/4 C. Olive oil (for cooking)
- 1 C. Panko bread crumbs
- 1 Egg
- 1.5 lbs. Boneless skinless chicken breast
- Salt and pepper
1. Bring balsamic vinegar to a simmer in a medium saute pan. Reduce about 10 minutes. Fumes from vinegar will be potent, so you may need to leave the kitchen while the balsamic reduces.
2. Add garlic, sugar, lemon zest and juice, oregano, chopped olives, and 1 tomato (diced) to the balsamic reduction. Continue to simmer while chicken is prepared, about 5 minutes.
3. Heat a large saute to medium-high with olive oil. Pound chicken so that it is equal thickness throughout. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Bread chicken by dipping in egg (that has been beaten), and then panko bread crumbs. Place breaded chicken in saute pan, and cook on both sides about 4 minutes until golden brown.
4. Once the balsamic reduction has thickened, decrease the temperature to low.
5. In a medium baking dish, place the cooked chicken. Top with balsamic reduction, red onions, tomato slices, basil leaves, and mozzarella. Add red cabbage slices around the chicken. Bake at 350 for about 7-10 minutes until cheese is melted, and chicken reaches 165.