Thursday, November 12, 2009

The power of butter

Trattoria Sostanza makes the best buttered chicken in the world. I've already shared this wisdom with everyone I know because I would hate for anyone to miss an opportunity to taste perfection in the form of a chicken breast.

My mom has been trying to re-create this dish at home since we first went to Italy as a family eight years ago. She would make a butter sauce to go on top, fussing around with very fancy clarified European butter, baking bone-in and skin-on chicken at a low temperature.

None of it worked.

And of course, none of that was neccesary. When they were there a few weeks ago, my mom was brave and decided to just ask what they did to make the chicken so life-changingly good. The wild answer is that they heat up a lot of butter and cook the chicken in it.

I made it last night in my cast iron skillet. It was absolutely the closest we've ever come to replicating it. One of the most powerful things about the dish is its very strong, rich smell, and I'm happy to say that this achieved that. Oh, the power of butter.

Photo of the original, taken my sister. But I swear, mine looked just like this!

Trattoria Sostanza style buttered chicken or Pollo al burro

You will need:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 stick of butter
Salt and pepper

Add the butter to a small-ish cast iron skillet. Melt the butter over a medium-low heat until it is just becoming brown, about 10 minutes. A good tip from Sostanza was that the chicken should be packed into the pan because it gets less dried out that way. Sprinkle salt and pepper onto chicken and add to the skillet. Cook on one side for five minutes, then flip. Repeat, until both sides have been flipped twice (about 20 minutes cooking time total).

Pour all of that brown butter over the chicken. Don't be stingy! You've already decided to make a dinner with a whole stick of butter in it, so don't back down now.

At Sostanza, we always order buttered tortellini to go with it, but last night I served it with swiss chard-mashed potatoes and salad. A slightly lighter combination that was delicious.



  1. Everything is better with butter! This recipe is going onto my must make list.

  2. I hope you love it as much as I do! You'll have to let me know how it turns out.


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