I love love LOVE this chicken dish, its balance of tanginess provided by the lemon juice and sour cream coupled with the sweet, distinctive flavor of the sherry. My second mom came up with this recipe a long time ago (when I was in high school, in fact, 30 some-odd years ago), and we still have not identified an appropriate name for it. Back then, there was something about the texture and color that made me ask if there was ground coffee in it (met with hysterical laughter), and so we have since referred to it – along with a good-natured laugh – as “Coffee Chicken.” There is no coffee in it of course, but that’s the joke…So if you have any naming suggestions, please send ’em my way!
Start by pounding 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts to about 1/2-inch thickness – the thinner, the better. Then coat the chicken evenly with the juice of 2 lemons and 1 packet of Good Seasons Italian dressing mix. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours minimum.
In a large skillet, heat a few tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat, and cook the chicken thoroughly on both sides (you’ll probably have to do two shifts). The skillet will turn brown from the butter, which will contribute to the flavor of the sauce. Place the chicken into a dish in a warm oven.
Next, deglaze the skillet by adding more butter, and then pour about a cup of sherry into the pan (I use cream sherry, not cooking sherry which I find too salty), with the burner still on medium-high. The scrapings in the skillet should liquefy and turn the sherry a dark brown (hmmm, just like coffee…).
Once the scrapings have been incorporated into the sherry, add about a cup of sour cream (regular or light), continuing to stir with a wire whisk or spoon/spatula as the sauce thickens. Adjust the sherry and sour cream according to your taste preference. Return the chicken breasts, and accumulated juices, to the pan, coat evenly, and either serve it immediately, or place the chicken and sauce back into the warming dish and into the oven to thicken further. It seems to taste better after it’s been left to thicken in the oven for some time, or maybe that’s just my fond memory of how my Mom always did it. Depending on how much sauce is created from the quantities of sherry and sour cream you use (hey, make extra, why not!), it may be spooned over a side of rice, which makes it super tasty.