Dinner was a hit tonight! I'm still kind of running on empty ingredient-wise, considering we haven't done that "back to reality" grocery shopping trip I keep talking about and not accomplishing. Even my mainstay, all purpose flour, is down to its last bits. Maybe had something to do with the 20 dozen cookies I made for the rehearsal dinner! In the past, I never used to use up whole packages of things like flour and olive oil. It must mean I'm cooking more!
I picked a recipe from Bittman, of course. I think I could never open another cookbook and be content. I have the hugest food crush on him. I mean.....what? In this particular recipe, Sauteed Chicken Cutlets with Quick Sauce, my buddy the Minimalist=not so minimal. It looked very wordy, with 6 long steps. As I cooked, though, it was really a surprisingly low-maintenance meal. I served the chicken over the spinach leaves I bought at the FM today. They wilted just enough under the heat of the chicken and sauce.
In the cop-out of them all, I baked up some Bisquick buttermilk biscuits from powdered dough I've had in the pantry for a while. They did the trick, and I know I didn't do anything wrong, but I still kinda felt like a dirty cheater for serving them. Several other carb options that I was hoping to use (i.e. fried rice or garlic parmesan flatbreads from TJs) were not up to my level of cooking prowess yet (in terms of time management and oven sharing). With time, I'm sure I'll get better at multitasking.
The chicken, mid-saute:
And the finished product:
I would definitely make this (sans biscuits) again, especially because Andy really seemed to like it... it took him from zero to a million appetite in no time flat! One of the many things I love about Bittman is that he presents so many interesting, easy variations on most of his recipes. I chose to make this chicken with the optional sauce, and I'm so glad I did, but next time I'll modify it a little. I think he gave 12 different suggestions for riffs on the sauce.
I didn't have any parsley, so I snipped some chives from the garden (YAY!) and threw those into the sauce instead, they were yum. Basil or thyme...ooooh, thyme...would've worked just as well. Also, next time, I might make a little more sauce, to put over rice or whatever side I make. And also for sure squeeze a lemon in, because lemon makes everything happy.
Sauteed Chicken Cutlets with Quick Sauce
from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
4 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets (2 breasts), 1 to 1 1/2 pounds, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup all-purpose flour, plain bread crumbs, or cornmeal
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter (or use all olive oil)
1/2 cup dry white wine (or use all stock)
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock, or water
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, plus a little more for garnish
1. Heat a large skilled, preferably non-stick, over medium-high heat for 2 or 3 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200. Meanwhile, sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place the flour, bread crumbs, or cornmeal on a plate or in a shallow bowl.
2. Add the oil and half the butter, if you are using any, to the skillet and swirl it around. When it is hot-- a pinch of flour will sizzle-- dredge a piece of the chicken in the coating, pressing it down a bit so that the coating gets into the cracks and crevices. Shake it a little so that excess coating falls off. Add the chicken piece to the pan, then move on to the next one. (Don't be tempted to dredge in advance and add all the pieces at once; the coating will become soggy, and the heat in the pan will drop too quickly.)
3. Cook the chicken, regulating the heat if necessary so there is a good constant sizzle but no burning. After 2 minutes, rotate the chicken (do not flip), so that the outside edges are moved toward the center and vice versa. After 3 to 4 minutes, when the pieces are browned, turn them over.
4. Cook on the second side about 3 minutes, until the chicken breasts are just firm to the touch. If you are unsure whether they're done, cut into one with a thin-bladed knife, the center should be white or slightly pink (since they will sit in the oven for 5 minutes, marginal undercooking is preferable to marginal overcooking). Remove the chicken to a platter and place it in the oven.
5. With the heat on medium-high, add the wine to the skillet. Let it bubble away, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until it is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the stock or water and continue to cook, stirring, until the mixture has reduced somewhat again and become slightly thickened and a bit syrupy, another 2 or 3 minutes. (if you want just a little bit of sauce, cook longer; if you want more, cook a little less.) Add the remaining butter (or oil, if you are not using any butter) and swirl the pan around until the butter melts (if you are using olive oil, stir vigorously with the back side of a spoon). Add any juices that have accumulated around the cooked chicken, along with the 1/4 cup of parsley. Stir; taste and adjust seasoning.
6. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, garnish with a bit more parsley, and serve.