Chicken Breasts with Fresh Sage

Adapted from a Patricia Wells‘ recipe found in her book, Trattoria. Simple and delicious!

She writes: “Ever since I sampled this ultimately simple chicken preparation one weekday afternoon at Antico Fattore in Florence, it’s been a family favorite……The quick marinade of lemon juice, oil, and fresh sage helps infuse the chicken with flavor, and tenderizes it at the same time. Be sure to sample the sage leaves before using: Even fresh sage can taste bitter. Do not use dried sage…”

Photo by Bruce Barone.


4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 28 fresh sage leaves (from my garden)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 lemons, halved, for garnish


1. Place the chicken breasts in a glass baking dish. Add the lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of the oil, and the sage leaves. Turn the chicken to coat evenly, cover and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. Strain the marinade into a small bowl; reserve the sage leaves separately.

3. In a large skillet, melt the butter in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over moderately high heat until hot and bubbly. Add the chicken breasts, smooth side down, and cook until evenly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn the breasts, and season the cooked side generously with salt and pepper. Tuck the reserved sage leaves around the chicken and cook until the chicken is browned on the bottom and just white throughout but still juicy, 5–10 minutes. Do not scorch the sage.

4. Remove the skillet from the heat. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and season the bottom side with salt and pepper. Slice the chicken breasts on the diagonal into think slices, and arrange on a warmed serving platter. Place the sage leaves over the chicken. Cover loosely with foil.

5. Discard the fat from the skillet. Heat the skillet over moderately high heat until hot. Add the reserved marinade and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. The sauce will boil almost immediately. As soon as it reduces to a brown glaze (less than 1 minute), pour the sauce over the chicken. Garnish with the lemon halves. Serve immediately.

I served this with Roasted Green Beans and Roasted Red Peppers with Garlic and Walnuts; Pasta with a Sage Butter Sauce with Walnuts. We enjoyed a simple Malbec with this excellent meal.

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