Work meetings are hardly ever interesting or rewarding. Particularly rah-rah meetings at the Large Unnamed Banking Institution, the place at which I toil daily and collect the paycheck worth significantly less than a) a male counterpart would receive, and b) my seven years of service deserve. But I digress. We did have a team meeting for the floor that I work on a couple of weeks back and during this meeting we were subjected to the sales presentation by Celebrated Chefs. It’s actually a cool program: high-end restaurants register with the service, then you sign up with your credit card, and then every time you eat there, the restaurant will donate 5% of your bill to the charity you select from their partner list. There is no cost to register, the charity gets funds, and the restaurant gets good PR.
It’s a good idea, and part of LUBI‘s efforts to function as a corporate entity with some semblance of ethics and a soul. I signed up, happy to help, knowing sadly that I probably would not contribute much to the cause, as due to the prices I have only been to one of the restaurants on their list, and that was for a special occasion (my bachelorette party, incidentally). However, as a thank you for signing up, I received a free cookbook, and we all know how much I love coobooks (two of my favorite things: reading and cooking, all in one. What’s not to love?) The cookbook is more coffee table than kitchen table, and has a lot of recipes that I would deem a little fancy and complicated for my weeknight kitchen, although it did have the absolutely amazing lobster macaroni and cheese that I had enjoyed at the aforementioned restaurant. Sometime when I want to blow a TON of money and calories I will splurge and make that.
One of the recipes that seemed adaptable to my humble kitchen was the Chicken Nachatta from Amore in Belltown. I had a couple of nice organic, free-range chicken breasts that needed cooking, and I wanted a chicken recipe a little more creative to play with. It called for marsala wine, which I figured was not quite necessary and could be replaced with my favorite red wine. The rest was just good staples like chicken breasts, onions, mushrooms, cream. And it didn’t look like it would take two hours to make, so I put it on the menu. It turned out beautifully-tender, moist chicken with a delicious sauce.
The more I cook, the more I experiment and enjoy the process of developing flavors. In baking, there are chemical reactions that require more precise measurements and ratios to achieve the desired results (as I found the other night when trying a new cookie recipe and failing at a batch of bread. Sorry guys). I find that I’m a lot less likely to stress over measuring when I am cooking something like this pan sauce. A little broth, a little wine, a little more wine, a little cream, a little more cream-hey, let’s put some of that Thai Ginger artisan salt in it!-and let it become something amazing. ‘Season to taste’ was never so useful a direction.
Better than Chicken Marsala
adapted from Amore
When Jer tasted this, he was quite intrigued. I told him it was supposed to be like chicken marsala, and he said he liked it better, hence my new name for the recipe.
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 c flour
salt, pepper, paprika
sliced assorted mushrooms-1/2 c, or more if you love mushrooms like I do
1/2 onion, finely sliced (the recipe called for red, but I don’t like red onions, so I used white)
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 c chicken stock
3/4 c red wine (use your favorite inexpensive drinking wine, or marsala if you really want to)
1/4 c dried cranberries
1/4 c heavy cream*
First saute your onion in butter until soft and beginning to carmelize. Mix salt, pepper, and paprika (about 1/2 tsp each) into flour and coat the chicken breasts with the seasoned flour. Remove onions from saute pan and add chicken, adding a little olive oil if your pan is too dry. Sear on medium high heat 2 minutes each side, then add brown sugar and stir to melt the sugar. Add stock and boil until reduced by half. Add wine, mushrooms, onions, and dried cranberries. Season with salt, pepper, a little chili powder, or whatever spice is your favorite to mix with mushrooms. Thyme perhaps? This will end up being a sweet and savory dish so I think chili powder is the best-it gives it a little kick to offset the sweetness.
Bring back to a boil, add the cream, and reduce heat to medium. It will look purple, a psychedelic soupyness, but don’t worry, as it reduces it will turn into a beautiful burgundy sauce. Cook for about 10 minutes, turning chicken a couple of times and spooning the sauce over the top, until chicken is cooked through. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper if desired.
I served this with roasted broccoli, but you could put any vegetable you wanted alongside-cauliflower, perhaps a mashed root vegetable like parsnip or rutabaga. Have fun!
*I grew up using 1% milk and never having cream or half and half in the house unless we were specifically making a dessert that called for cream. Nowadays I have 2% milk for Jer to drink and a half gallon of Alpenrose cream from Theno’s dairy. We love Theno’s and their local organic eggs and milk, and I enjoy the ease of slipping a little cream into a recipe or whipping up a little cream to go on fruit. I am finding that using high quality ingredients makes for better food, and I eat less of it because it is more satisfying.
(Note: Our blog used to live elsewhere. What follows are comments this post received on the old site:)