The Scene: Saturday 5 pm. Ms. Finn and big kids are at church. Me and the 5-year-old Sunshine are at home, charged with whipping up dinner.
The Plan: Cook some chicken. That's it. We've got a couple packages of chicken breast thawing, essentially no other ingredients of note, and it's already 5 o'clock.
First step: Pour a cocktail. I mean you gotta get some inspiration, right?
Second step: Go to the greatest go-to cookbook of all: Cuisine Rapide. It's not really all too rapide, but it's rapide enough. The discovery: Chicken with Garlic and Balsamic Vinegar. I've got garlic and balsamic. Read further: need mushrooms. I've got no mushrooms. OK, we'll do it without mushrooms. Kids don't like them anyway.
Third step: Scrounge around. Hey - whatta you know? There's a bag of fresh sugar snap peas. The kids have never seen them before, so maybe they'll buy in to the "funny looking bean" / "peas inside" thing. Another good angle "they're like edamame but you can eat the pod". It didn't work , but it was a nice try. They had carrot sticks.
Here's the menu:
- Chicken with Garlic, Balsamic Vinegar, Fresh Oregano and Sundried Tomato
- Asian-flavored Sugar Snap Peas
- Herbed Rice
- Carrot Sticks (ha!)
The Results: excellent. The chicken was out of this world, the peas very nice, and the herbed rice among the best I've made to date, even as simple as it really is. Recap of each recipe:
Chicken: The Cuisine Rapide recipe called for dusting the breasts in flour, and old school technique we don't see a lot anymore. However, it created a nice little texture around the chicken, without the down side of egg wash, breadcrumbs, etc. Also kept the breasts from sticking in the very large non-nonstick skillet I used. Lots of S&P helped, especially since I was not planning to finish the balsamic sauce for the kids, so they needed some seasoning. After browning the breasts I added chicken stock, bay leaf, a half dozen garlic cloves and fresh oregano sprigs. Cover and saute for 10 mins. Perfect. Removed chicken for kids, added balsamic and sun dried tomato slices (Amy loved them), and finished the sauce with a touch of butter. Wonderful, wonderful. Kids really liked the chicked - "best you've ever made" from Alex, the pickiest of the bunch. The oregano and sundried tomato were added simply because I had them, and wanted to substitute for the missing mushrooms.
Peas: Steamed them in microwave, 2 min then let sit covered until done. Sauteed shallot, ginger and garlic in oil, added a splash of sesame then tossed with the peas. Not the perfect match for the chicken, but nice and fresh.
Rice: Suateed onion as a base, sauteed the rice as well, then added fresh thyme, fresh parsley, tarragon (I never have it fresh and don't think it grows in our harsh summer climate) and used half chicken stock / half water. I used an Emile Henry ceramic pot that can be used on the stove top, oven or microwave (and dishwasher). Love this pot. The key to this recipe though, was use of a high quality Basmati rice. The one I used was about $5-6 for 4 pounds. Pretty steep for rice, and the price will likely go higher soon with the news of rising rice prices worldwide. But, the texture, nuttiness and appearance are well worth it. This simple dish is really a stunning side that can hold up to and complement most any cuisine. Respect this one.
TTFN - and please wish me luck on staying current on the blog updates.