How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Comfortable Crusty Chicken

Some while ago, my mother gave us a copy of Comfortable in the Kitchen (which we are) by Meredith Laurence, also known as the Blue Jean Chef. When I noticed it on our shelf I did not remember having used it, so in the spirit of this blog, The author is known as an educator both of real chefs on both coasts and of ordinary home cooks in various venues, especially television.

I decided to look through it first in choosing a Thursday--night dinner. (Careful readers of this blog might know that Thursday night usually features seafood from Kyler's Catch, but my Thursday-night rowing is on hiatus, so I needed to find landlubber fare.

As I flipped through the pages, the title Parmesan Crusted Chicken with White Wine Cream Sauce jumped off the page. I quickly compared a couple other titles and this seemed to be the strike the right balance between how hungry we were (somewhat) and how hard I was willing to work (somewhat).

Being in that lazy mood, I did not really plan side dishes. Pam had noticed some peas in the freezer, which I steamed just as the main dish was nearly complete.

And in the grocery I noticed fresh cranberries, so I got about a pound of them. I put them in a cast-iron saucepan with about a half cup each of whiskey, water, and brown sugar -- I boiled and stirred this throughout the preparation of the chicken, taking it off the heat just near the end so it could cool slightly.

Since I had to go "foraging" for most of these ingredients anyway, I did not make any substitutions. Also, per usual practice, I did not trouble myself too much with measurements.

1/4 cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a dash more in the sauce
freshly ground black pepper (I did not notice the "freshly" part until just now)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used three, and cut each in half)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 shallot, finely chopped (I used one small one)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped (but they are already tiny!)
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used light)

This recipe is basically a slightly up-scale version of my usual fried chicken. I began by heating the oil in the pan. Then I coated the chicken lightly with flour, dunked it in the egg, dredged it in a blend of Parm and Panko, and placed it directly into the pan to cook -- about six minutes per side. I had put a wire cookie rack onto a cookie sheet so that the chicken could rest on the rack in a 200F oven while I prepared the sauce. I like this idea -- it prevents the coating from coming off entirely as it would if resting on a platter.

To make the sauce, I drained most of the oil from the pan and then used the remainder to sautee the shallot, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf for just a minute or two. I then added the wine, cooked for another couple of minutes to reduce, and then simmered with the cream for 2-3 minutes more. I added pepper and removed the bay leaf.

I divided the chicken between our two plates, adding some peas and cranberries to each. A good, lazy meal. Since white wine was in the sauce, we enjoyed a nice oaky Chardonnay with this meal, a break from our usual winter warmer of Malbec.

Verdict: A delicious meal we will be repeating.

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