Nothing says comfort on a cold winter night than a nice breast of chicken in a sumptuous sauce. I love this dish because it can be on the table in a half an hour, or less, and is comprised of ingredients that I always have on hand. A bit of pre-prep is called for, however. First of all, use boneless, skinless chicken breasts purchased fresh from your grocer's meat counter. Wait for a sale if you must, but please do not use the frozen bags of desiccated chicken breasts. The difference between the two is remarkable. Second, place your chicken into a lidded container and pour 1-1/2 cups of buttermilk over it and let it hang out in the fridge all day. Turn it once or twice, if you think about it, but if not, no harm done. Buttermilk does for chicken what brining does for pork, tenderizes, and makes it deliciously moist. Try it once, and you'll never prepare chicken again without making use of this easy first step.
Prior to preparing this dish, have all of the ingredients measured out and within reach of the cooktop of the stove. Once begun, the process is rather fast, and you'll have little time for retrieving, chopping, and measuring. I try to employ this practice with every recipe that requires cooking on top of the stove. It makes things fast and easy, and virtually mindless, something I truly appreciate at day's end.
This dish pairs well with rice pilaf, or nestles happily in a mound of freshly mashed potatoes, but I found perfection in the simplicity of the chicken and sauce served with a side of bright green, braised baby bok choy. Come back tomorrow for the recipe for that simple side, and a clever way to serve it for Valentine's Day.
(with Mushrooms and Peas)
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed, and seasoned
with salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup quartered cremini mushrooms, about 2.5 oz
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 cup homemade chicken stock
1/2 cup frozen green peas
2 tsp. fresh Meyer lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Place chicken breasts into pan and sauté 4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a warmed plate and cover lightly with foil to keep warm.
Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat and add mushrooms. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, tossing to brown evenly, then stir in flour and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute more.
Deglaze skillet with sherry and reduce until nearly evaporated. Whisk in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until mixture thickens, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in peas and simmer 2 minutes more; add lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper. Return chicken and accumulated juices to the pan, covering with sauce until heated through.
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