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Posts Tagged ‘chicken breasts’

Remembering that raspberries and blueberries are so full of good things for us, I will buy a carton of raspberries at the grocery later today. We will use some on our cereal tomorrow morning, and some tonight in a sauce for chicken breasts. I will also need to pick up some mushrooms.

The recipe I will be using is a variation of a tried and true quick sauce recipe which is so adaptable to the type of meat, availability of ingredients and nearly foolproof.

It relies on the simple technique of sauteing a cut of meat (one suitable for a quick saute, not a 3″ hunk of beef or a giant pork chop), then removing the meat to keep warm elsewhere (in a low oven or on a plate, covered with foil) and using a liquid or liquids to release the stuck-on browned bits in the bottom of the skillet. Any number of liquids can be used – wines, broths, lemon juice, vinegar – and any number of vegetables can be sauted in the fat in the skillet before the liquid is added. Then various enhancers can be added as the sauce reduces and the flavors meld.

Today we will use chicken breasts, boneless, skinless and pounded to an even thickness. I will saute them in approximately 1 tablespoon of olive oil with a teaspoon of butter added. After the chicken is brown on both sides (about 4-5 minutes per side) and removed to a plate, I’ll add about 1/4 cup of chopped onions, more oil if needed, and 1/2 cup of chopped mushrooms and a few minutes later, a small clove of garlic, minced. Just 30 seconds after adding the garlic and stirring it around, I’ll add about 1/2 cup of dry white wine. After scraping up whatever browned bits are still on the bottom of the skillet, I’ll add about 1/2 cup of raspberries and cook that for 10 minutes to break up the berries. Then I’ll add 1/4 c. heavy cream, the chicken, and whatever juices have accumulated on the plate. After the chicken has warmed up, it’s ready to serve.

NOTE: If the chicken breasts are really thick, they can continue to cook in a 350 degree oven after browning them on the stove while the sauce is being made. I usually pound them thin enough so that the initial browning takes care of cooking them sufficiently. Covering them keeps them plenty warm for the fifteen to twenty minutes it takes to make the sauce.

ANOTHER NOTE: No mushrooms? No worries, mate. Don’t use them. No white wine? Use chicken broth or dry sherry instead. No raspberries, use apple slices or pear slices. No bananas, though. Yuck.

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Are you looking for a quick chicken dish? One that’s full of flavor? Here’s a go-to recipe that requires fresh rosemary and garlic, two flavors that complement each other so well.

Rosemary is an easy herb to grow. It thrives in hot summer with very little attention other than occasional watering and some pruning if you want to keep it compact. I have had it winter over in mild winters, but it usually dies and needs replacing each spring. I have not had luck growing it in the kitchen window for some reason. It gets mealybugs. Yuck. I may try to keep it going in the garage window this year.

This is one of those recipes that benefits from the cook pounding the chicken breasts to an even thickness to prevent one thin end from becoming too dry before the thicker end is finished cooking. You can pound them as thin as you want, just make sure that they don’t fall part.

CHICKEN WITH GARLIC AND ROSEMARY(For variation, see * below)

4 chicken breast halves, boneless and skinless, pounded to even thickness
1/4 c. flour
salt and pepper
1-2 T. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 t. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 c. chicken broth
2 T. red wine vinegar

1. Mix the flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken and shake off the excess flour.
2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Saute the breasts in the hot oil, about 4 minutes/side until done. Transfer to a plate, cover with foil to keep warm. Add the garlic and rosemary. Cook 1 minute, stirring.
3. Add the broth and vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer to reduce the liquid to 1/2 c.
4. Return the chicken to the pan and cook over low heat just to reheat the chicken.
5. Serve with the pan sauce.

*Variation:

In addition to the above ingredients:
1 fennel bulb, sliced lengthwise, core removed
1 small onion, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
half of a 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes (or whole ones broken up), with half of the juice

After browning the chicken, remove to plate and cover. Add fennel and onion to the hot oil. Saute, stirring, until tender. Add garlic and resemary. Cook 1 minute. Add broth, tomatoes and red wine vinegar. Bring to boil to reduce the sauce by half. Lower heat and return chicken to pan and simmer for a few minutes.

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You can find recipes anyplace, even when you’re not looking. That’s one reason my collection of recipes keeps growing. I estimate that I need to live to the age of 327 just to prepare all the chicken recipes that I have collected.

Here’s one I found, not too surprisingly, on a package of boneless chicken breasts in a grocery in upstate New York a number of years ago. We were vacationing with my sister and brother-in-law at their wonderful house in the Adirondack Mountains near Keene and Keene Valley. It was my turn to cook dinner and this dish was the entree. I don’t remember the rest of the meal, but I made sure to keep this recipe, for years still on the plastic wrapper of the chicken taped to another piece of paper. Now it is safely committed to the ether as well as one of my cookbooks. I hope you enjoy it.

(Note: If you don’t have chili paste, use hot sauce instead. But don’t substitute ground ginger for fresh.)

SERENDIPITOUS GRILLED CHICKEN

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. oil
2 T. minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 t. minced fresh garlic
1 t. chili paste (or hot sauce, to taste)
1/4 t. sugar
1/4 t. salt
black pepper to taste

Mix the marinade ingredients in a small bowl.

Put the chicken and the marinade in a plastic food storage bag or other covered container and mix well.

Let sit in the refrigerator for an hour or so.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.

Grill or broil until done.

(NOTE: Boneless breasts may be pounded to an even thickness. This prevents the thinner end from becoming too dry after cooking. It also shortens the cooking time a little. Always cut into the thickest part of the breast to make sure the juices run clear instead of pink.)

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There is nothing like boneless chicken breasts for convenience. Someone else dispatches the poor bird, plucks it and guts it – all those unpleasant chores required by us carnivores. Then, Chicken Little is dismembered and its breasts are de-skinned and de-boned for our convenience. All that for a price, I might remind you.

Gone are the days when most people had a little coop in the backyard, with a few hens and a rooster to keep the families intact, the chopping block and hatchet at the ready. This was the source of the expressions I heard as a child from my mother and grandmother from their days on the farm. “He’s running around like a chicken without its head!” “Quit that or I’ll wring your neck!” We knew that there was no way our necks were in danger but the message got across very well.

Today, we go to the grocery, pick up a plastic pack of nicely skinned and boned breasts for five or six dollars and head home to prepare a quick meal without all the struggles previously mentioned. Properly prepared, the breasts can be cooked in 6 minutes, bathed in a sauce made in another 3 minutes and devoured in five. You can’t beat that for efficiency.

With that in mind, I looked yesterday for a recipe for the three boneless breasts I had in the refrigerator. I wanted a relatively simple dish, but one with a tangy flavor to go with the succotash that I was planning to fix as a vegetable side dish. When I think of “tangy flavor” I usually think of lemons or mustard. In this case I decided to go with the mustard.

I rinsed and dried the chicken pieces and set them aside on a plate. I mixed 1/3 cup Dijon mustard and 1/3 cup mayonnaise in a small bowl with a little salt and black pepper. I picked a small sprig of rosemary, stripped the leaves and chopped them to get about 1/2 teaspoon and added that to the bowl. I slathered that on both sides of the chicken, covered them with plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator until I was ready to cook them a few hours later. (It isn’t necessary to let them rest for a while. They can be cooked right away.)

I started cooking the succotash, a recipe that I will give you below, and preheated the broiler. (I could have cooked the chicken outside on the grill, but it was just too darn hot!) I transferred the breasts to a broiler pan and broiled them about 4 inches from the heat for 3 minutes per side, then I turned the broiler to low (you could move the rack down one level if you only have one broiler setting) flipped the chicken back to the first side again and sprinkled them with Parmesan cheese. I continued cooking them for another three minutes until the cheese was starting to turn golden brown. They were ready to eat.

(Note: These breasts were pretty evenly thick, but when putting then on the broiler pan, I did make sure to fold the thinner edge under to even them out a little more. I didn’t have to pound them to an even thickness which is advisable if one end is thicker than the other. Pounding them not only prevents one end from being too dry it also shortens the time necessary for cooking. Always cut into the thickest part to make sure that any juices released are clear and not pink. If pink, return to the heat for another minute and recheck.)

I’ve been making this dish, or variations of it, for years. Some recipes call for bread crumbs and garlic; some for yogurt instead of mayonnaise; some for Worcestershire sauce, for a deeper flavor, or cayenne pepper for some heat. The one I used today is just about the simplest. Don’t have any rosemary? Don’t let that stop you. The chicken will be delicious without it.

We had a few slices of fresh no-knead bread and succotash for the rest of the meal. The succotash is a recipe from the Fine Cooking website. It is a little different from the frozen box of corn and lima beans that I personally hated as a child. It has a lot more vegetables in it and would go a long way to furnishing the variety of vegetables that we are urged to eat daily. It is quick to prepare, despite the relatively long list of ingredients, but benefits from advance preparation, cutting up the vegetables and lining them up on the counter in the order to be added to the pot. It takes about fifteen minutes of cooking, and about fifteen minutes of chopping the vegetables. I used custard cups to hold the individual vegetables and had everything ready about an hour before I wanted to cook. They just sat there on the kitchen counter, the fragrant onion and garlic making my mouth water in anticipation. Here’s the recipe, again, thanks to Fine Cooking.

SUMMER SUCCOTASH

2 T., plus 1/2 t. olive oil
1 small red onion, in 1/4″ dice
1/8 t. dried red chile flakes
Kosher salt
1 red bell pepper, cut in 1/4″ dice (note: I did 1/2″)
1/4 lb. fresh green beans, 1/4″ pieces (note: I did 1/2″)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (I used a garlic press)
1 medium zucchini, cut in 1/4″ dice (I did 1/2″)
Kernels from 2 large ears corn (about 1 1/2 c.) (I used thawed frozen corn)
1/4 lb. thawed frozen baby lima beans (I used fordhook)
1 small ripe tomato, seeded and cut into 1/4″
1 T. unsalted butter
1 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsely
2-3 T. chopped fresh basil

Heat 2 T. oil in a deep 10″ saute pan of a large shallow pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, chile flakes, and a generoud pinch of salt and cook until the onion is soft and has started to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the bell pepper and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the green beans; cook for 2 minutes.

Push some of the ingredients aside to make room to saute the garlic. Heat the remaining 1/2 t. oil in this spot, add the garlic, cook until you smell it, and then stir it into the vegetables.

Add the zucchini and a pinch of salt to draw out some moisture and cook for 2 minutes. Add the corn; cook for 2 minutes. Add the lima beans and tomato and cook until all the vegetables are perfectly tender, about 2 minutes more. Stir in the butter, parseley, and basil and season with more salt, if necessary.

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This is a very colorful group of vegetables and tasted great with the tangy chicken. Give it a try. And lets hear it for the chicken neck wringers, plucker, de-boners and grocers!

Morgana

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I made Chicken Divan last night for dinner. I had two chicken breasts halves to cook and plenty of broccoli plus the other items that I needed to throw together. It’s a tasty dish and full of that great vegetable, broccoli.

There are lots of recipes for Chicken Divan, from simple to complicated. The easiest one would be basically, cooked chicken cubes, a can of mushroom soup, frozen broccoli (cooked) and cheese, mixed and baked for 30 minutes. From there, you can get as complicated as you wish.

My recipe falls somewhere in between the two extremes. I can get everything assembled and ready to bake in under 30 minutes. With another 30 minutes in the oven, that qualifies as relatively quick meal. The time in the oven can be spent preparing a salad, another vegetable, or just relaxing with a nice glass of wine. Sounds like a plan to me.

CHICKEN DIVAN

SERVES 4

2 whole or 4 half chicken breasts, boneless for quicker preparation, bone-in for economy and free broth (you want at least 2 cups cooked cubed chicken)
1 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter
1/4 c. chopped onion, one small or half medium onion
1/2 t. salt or to taste
1/4 t. pepper
2 T. flour
1/2 c. chicken broth, either canned or fresh
2/3 c. milk
2 T. dry sherry (optional)
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 lb. broccoli, washed and chopped, or 1 box frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained
1 c. grated cheese Parmesan, or cheddar, or any type, divided
1/4 c. mayonnaise
2 t. dijon mustard
1-2 T. heavy cream, optional, if needed to thin the sauce

1. Cook the chicken until tender, remove from bones and cube into small bite-sized pieces; set aside. Preheat oven to 35o degrees. While the chicken is cooking, steam the fresh broccoli for 4-5 minutes, rinse with cold water and drain.

2. In a heavy-bottom medium saucepan, heat the oil and butter. Add the onion and saute until tender but not browned. Add the flour and stir constantly to remove the raw flour taste. Stir in the chicken broth and milk. Stir often being careful to not let it burn on the bottom.

3. Add the sherry, if using, salt and pepper, and nutmeg. Keep stirring until thick and bubbly. Add more milk or heavy cream if the sauce is too thick.

4. Remove from heat and stir in the mayonnaise and mustard. Add half of the cheese and stir to melt.

5. In an ovenproof casserole or gratin dish, layer the broccoli and chicken. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the sauce.

6. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered.

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