Chicken Scampi

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Chicken Scampi: A Lemon-Garlic Delight

Chicken scampi is a classic Italian-American dish that’s both flavorful and incredibly easy to make. It features tender chicken bathed in a garlicky, lemon-butter sauce, typically served over a bed of pasta.

Chicken Scampi

Type of Cuisine

Chicken scampi falls under the umbrella of Italian-American cuisine. While there’s no single origin story, it’s believed to be a variation of Italian dishes that use similar flavors and cooking techniques.

Main Ingredients

Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs are most commonly used. Cut them into bite-sized pieces for even cooking.

  • Olive Oil and Butter: The combination of healthy fats adds richness and helps brown the chicken.
  • Garlic: A generous amount of minced garlic forms the base of the flavorful sauce.
  • Lemon Juice and Zest: Fresh lemon juice and zest bring a bright acidity that cuts through the richness and balances the flavors.
  • White Wine (Optional): Dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc adds depth and complexity to the sauce, but it can be omitted for a simpler version.
  • Chicken Broth: Low-sodium chicken broth adds body and extra savory notes to the sauce.
  • Fresh Parsley: Chopped parsley is a classic garnish that adds a touch of freshness.
  • Parmesan Cheese (Optional): Grated Parmesan cheese adds a salty, nutty dimension to the dish, but it’s not strictly necessary.
  • Pasta: Angel hair, spaghetti, or fettuccine are all popular choices to pair with the scampi sauce.

Cooking Steps

1. Cook the Pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook your chosen pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.
2. Dredge the Chicken: Pat the chicken pieces dry and season with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge them in flour to create a slight crust.
3. Brown the Chicken: Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
4. Build the Sauce: In the same skillet, add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add white wine (if using) and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom. Let the wine simmer for a couple of minutes to cook off the alcohol.
5. Simmer and Thicken: Pour in chicken broth, lemon juice, and zest. Bring to a simmer and let the sauce reduce slightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, whisk in a little grated Parmesan cheese for extra richness.
6. Combine and Serve: Add the cooked pasta and chicken back to the pan and toss everything together to coat the pasta in the sauce. If the sauce seems too thick, add a splash of reserved pasta water to loosen it up. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Level of Difficulty

Chicken scampi is a beginner-friendly dish. It requires minimal prep work and comes together quickly in one pan, making it a perfect weeknight meal.

Flavors or Variations

The classic chicken scampi boasts a balance of savory, garlicky notes with a bright acidity from the lemon. You can add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a touch of heat or experiment with different herbs like fresh thyme or oregano.

Here are some variations to consider:

Shrimp Scampi: Swap the chicken for shrimp and adjust the cooking time accordingly.

  • Vegetable Scampi: Create a vegetarian version by replacing the chicken with sauteed vegetables like asparagus, mushrooms, or bell peppers.
  • Creamy Scampi: For a richer sauce, stir in a splash of heavy cream at the end.
  • Sun-dried Tomato Scampi: Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes for a burst of tangy flavor.

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