Flattened Chicken Breasts

Flattened Chicken Breast

Flattened Chicken. I got this recipe from the Los Angeles Times. They printed it as a request from a reader. That reader fondly remembered Flattened Chicken as one of the signature dishes of the former Campanile here in Los Angeles. That dish was known there as Crispy Flattened Chicken Breast. I remember it fondly too. It was big enough to share and it had crisp of a crust that I had never known chicken to have before. I (like the reader from the LA Times) just assumed that without the massive wood-fueled oven that Mark Peel presided over, there was just no way to get that flattened chicken crust at home.

The LA Times proved me wrong (thank you, thank you, thank you).

As delish (that’s a blog word– it means tasty) as this dish is, it’s hardly unique to Campanile or Los Angeles. It’s a rather well-known Italian preparation that’s most typically made with a whole chicken, split and partially boned. Similar to what a grill-meister (like Nibble Me This) might call spatchcock. What makes this version so appealing to me is that it’s made with boneless chicken breasts– and it’s made on the stove.

I’m not saying that boneless chicken breasts are my favorite cut of the bird. That honor belongs to the thigh (bone in). But most folks prefer the breast– or at least they say they do. (Though I’m convinced that in a side-by-side blind taste test most people would find they prefer dark meat). But I digress.

Flattened Chicken Breasts

However, it’s the fact that most people (think) they like the white meat that makes me like this recipe so much (oh, and the fact that it’s cooked on the stove top– did I mention that?). This flattened chicken breast has a crust of super crackly, crunchy skin (Mark Peel would call it crispy). Which makes it about the best way I know to eat the white meat. The breast lovers among us won’t know that the skin and the cooking method add fat (and flavor) to this, the blandest of meats. Even if they push the skin aside, we’ve fooled them. They’re getting flavor nonetheless. Making it perfect dinner party fare. GREG

flattened chicken breast

Campanile’s Crispy Flattened Chicken 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Los Angles Times and the Former Campanille RestaurantPublished

You may split the breasts before cooking if you prefer. I did.

Flattened Chicken Breast


  • 2 whole boneless whole chicken breasts (skin on and the first wing bone in, if possible)
  • 3 clove garlic (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 8 sage leaves
  • kosher salt (as needed)
  • freshly cracked black pepper (as needed)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil


Lift up the skin on the cut side of the chicken breasts and insert the garlic slices. Distribute them evenly under the skin, taking care not to break the skin. Rub the sage leaves between your hands to release their oils and insert 4 of the leaves evenly under the skin of both breasts with the garlic cloves. Pull the skin back over the breast as completely as possible. If the chicken has not been brined, salt and pepper liberally on both sides. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until hot. Add the olive oil and heat to just below smoking. Season the skin side of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place skin-side down in the pan. Season the other side of the breasts. Turn the heat down to medium low and place another heavy pan on top of the breasts, so that they are pressed flat into the pan. If the second pan is not heavy, weight it with canned tomatoes or clean bricks. Make sure the weight is evenly distributed over all the breasts. They must cook evenly and at the same time. Cook until very brown and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes.

Turn the breasts over and cook for 8 more minutes, or until cooked through. Use the weight system again if need to make sure they sit flat. Remove from the heat, let stand 5 minutes, then slice and serve, or cut each breast in half and serve.