Saturday, January 3, 2009

Recipe? What Recipe?

I think it is about time some of you learn to cook.

Why? Because you have to eat and if you have a family they do too.

And I find it very disturbing when I hear people (well, especially mom people) who say they just don't cook. I worry about your babies, those chicken globule thingies and that watery powdered cheese and slimy pasta from the blue box is scary stuff. Is that what they are eating? While you choke down a Lean definitely not Cuisine with exactly one chunk of some processed chicken product in a glistening puddle of sauce made from substances you cannot pronounce the name of? You know that just is so not right.

I know how to cook. Recipes are plentiful on the internet, and there are probably thousands of beginner cookbooks. But I would like to encourage you to learn to cook without recipes. Cooking is really about learning techniques and using them to prepare fresh foods that you and your family enjoy.

30 minute meals sound like a great idea until you buy the book and find out that they are suggesting that you serve your kids or your hard working partner kale soup and roasted cauliflower. Well that just isn't going to fly now, is it?

So here is a quick and easy dinner that involves a few simple techniques.

Smothered Chicken: I buy the bags of frozen chicken breast tenders because they are better sized for portion control than the full size chicken breasts, and they are quick to cook.

Defrost a number of chicken breast portions to serve your family. Season them with salt and pepper or your favorite grill seasoning. I use a Tone's garlic pepper blend that I get at Sam's Club, it is my staple seasoning for almost everything.

Sear the Chicken in a hot skillet. To sear meat you should heat the pan on medium high, then add the oil just before you add the meat. Use a combination of olive oil and butter, the olive oil will prevent the butter from scorching when you add it to the hot pan, and the butter adds flavor. I do not use "spreads" they are not suitable for cooking. If the skillet seems too hot and the meat is smoking when added to the pan, turn the heat down. (duh!) Turn the chicken so it is browned on both sides. Remove it from the pan to a baking dish.

Turn down the heat to medium if you haven't already done that. Add some sliced onions and sliced fresh mushrooms to the pan and stir them around to begin to caramelize them. That means they will be getting slightly browned. If you hate onions or one of your family members won't touch them with a ten foot pole, leave them out. The same goes for the mushrooms. Remember this is not a recipe, you are cooking for yourself and can do whatever you like.

De-glaze the pan with some chicken broth from a can or a box. Turn up the heat a little if needed and stir well with a wooden spoon to get all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan mixed into the sauce. Add a tablespoon of butter or heavy cream to give the sauce a little thickness and added flavor. Add pepper to taste and if you are using unsalted chicken broth taste to see if it needs salt.

Place a slice of Swiss cheese over each chicken portion, pour sauce over top. Put the baking dish in a 375 degree oven until the cheese is melted and starts to bubble a bit. If using the chicken tenders this will take about 10 minutes, if full size chicken breasts it will be about 15 or more depending on size. The cheese acts kind of as a meat thermometer and won't start bubbling until the chicken is done.

Serve this with mashed potatoes, rice or noodles and a salad or steamed vegetables.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Doni,
    I eat Chicken most of the time, for some reason that's my meat of choice...when I go out to eat that is.
    At home that's a different story, not sure why - it's a versatile and easy meat to work with isn't it.
    This recipe sounds just wonderful.
    Thanks for sharing.