Chicken Sunday

My mom and dad always joke about the years when my dad would visit Grammy’s house on Sunday afternoons and join the Beltowski family for a chicken dinner.

Mom and Dad, 1972
Mom and Dad, 1972

The chicken got a bit tiresome. And so Chicken Sundays became a bit of a joke in our family.

This year, I belatedly discovered the amazing children’s author/illustrator Patricia Polacco (a fellow Michigander). Her version of Chicken Sunday is quite a bit more touching (and tasty) than ours.

Both these anecdotes are relevant because Toby and I have recently been having Chicken Sundays of our own. Our most recent version of this featured a recipe that ran in the Washington Post in 1999. It’s from an article with the headline, “First you take a chicken breast; one way to saute and 13 ways to sauce a weekday dinner favorite.”

Reporter Pam Anderson supports a pared-down approach in the art of saute:

“There’s no need to pinch, prod, poke or push around the chicken. If the oil temperature and pan size are right, the breasts should be done with one turn in about six minutes.”

She gets straight to the good stuff (at least for me, because I need such basic instruction):

Over time, I’ve learned that to saute chicken breasts properly, you must start by heating the pan before you ever touch the chicken. Since neither oil nor butter is ideal, use a combination of the two. Butter for flavor; oil to increase the smoking point. As soon as you turn on the burner to low, add the butter and oil. Slow, steady heat keeps it from wildly sizzling, spitting, smoking and burning.

This was a pretty basic recipe, from what Toby tells me.

Toby makes the meal
The cook at work.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe:

Sauteed Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

(4 servings)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed of fat
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup flour measured into a pie plate or other shallow pan
Lemon wedges or pan sauce (see following recipes)

1. Pull the tenderloin–the flap of meat attached to a boneless, skinless chicken breast–from each breast half and saute them separately. Some brands of chicken breasts come with their tenderloins already removed.

2. Place the breasts between 2 sheets of wax paper and pound or roll until even in thickness.

3. In a 11- or 12-inch skillet over medium heat, melt the butter in the oil.

4. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts and tenderloins with salt and pepper to taste. Dredge the chicken in the flour. Set aside.

5. A couple of minutes before sauteing, increase the heat to medium- high. When the butter stops foaming, turns brown and starts to smell nutty, transfer the chicken breasts and the tenderloins to the skillet. Cook, turning only once, until the chicken breasts are golden brown, about 3 minutes per side (tenderloins will be done a little sooner). Remove the chicken from the skillet.

Orange-Dijon Pan Sauce With Rosemary

(4 servings)

1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon butter

1. To the drippings in the skillet, add the orange juice, mustard and rosemary and boil over medium-high heat until the liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup.

2. Carefully tilt the skillet so the liquid collects at 1 side of the pan.

3. Whisk in the butter until the sauce is smooth and glossy.

4. Spoon a little sauce over each sauteed breast and serve immediately.

The meal.
This week’s meal.

Notes and Modifications
• Per serving: 43 calories, trace protein, 4 gm carbohydrates, 3 gm fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 2 gm saturated fat, 8 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber
• Toby said, “I just followed the recipe to a tee.” So apparently that’s all you need to do.
• Recipe taken from: First, You Take a Chicken Breast; One Way to Saute and 13 Ways to Sauce a Weekday Dinner Favorite. Pam Anderson. The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.:Sep 22, 1999. p. F01


Published in: on February 24, 2008 at 6:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Baked Brie

I have expressed several times before that I am miserable at cooking. My hope in attempting this week’s recipe was the “baked” part of baked brie would save me.

It’s not the first time that the talented Ms. Emily Bingham has said exactly what I’m thinking, and here are her thoughts on baking people vs. cooking people.

Baking is an exact science, it requires knowing all these nuances about your oven and the weather and such… you sort of have to follow directions (unless you’re a super pro). So basically, I think I’m good at baking because I’m really anal. And cooking favors people like my flamboyant mother, who just tosses things in at random only to have things turn out wonderfully (and when she tries the same things with bread or cookies, it’s always a disaster).

Right on, Emily.

Googling for “baking vs. cooking” also led me to a blog with an author who feels the opposite of me.

Which camp do you belong to, cooking or baking? Is there a way to marry these two distinct leanings?

Onto the recipe. I ripped this one from the December 30, 2007 edition of the Detroit Free Press when I was home for Christmas.

Baked Brie with Roasted Garlic and Herbs

Serves: 10
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes

1 whole garlic bulb
1 1/2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided use
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 (1 pound) round loaf sourdough bread
1 (8 ounce) round Brie or Camembert cheese, leave rind on
1 (10.5 ounce) baguette, sliced and toasted

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove papery outer skin from garlic, but do not peel or separate cloves.

2. Cut top 1/4 inch off bulb. Place cut side up on foil. Brush with 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Bake 30-35 minutes or until softened.

3. Meanwhile, cut top 1/4 off round loaf of bread. Hollow out loaf so cheese will fit inside. Set aside removed bread. Place cheese inside bread.

4. Cool garlic for 10-15 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees. Squeeze softened garlic into a bowl; mash with a fork. Spread over cheese. Sprinkle with additional rosemary and thyme if desired.

5. Replace bread top; brush outside of bread with remaining oil. Wrap in foil; bake 45-50 minutes or until cheese is melted.

6. Slice and serve with toasted baguette slices and reserved bread on a platter.

I don’t have any pictures of the final product because I finished making it at a party of people I wasn’t terribly familiar with and thus I felt silly taking pictures of my food. I will say, however, that it was totally gone by the end of the night and that I received plenty of compliments on it.

Here’s what it looked like after we inserted the cheese, but before we put the roasted garlic on top:

Baked Brie
Step one: cut a hole in the bread. Step two: put your cheese in that bread.

And here’s the final product as created in the Freep test kitchen. I couldn’t copy the whole article because it’s not available on the Web site, and I discovered that recipes themselves can’t be copyrighted, but the narrative accompanying the recipe can.

Baked Brie Article
A much lovelier image than I could have created, although the MacBook camera picture of it isn’t the greatest.

Notes and Modifications

• We didn’t use kosher salt. We used regular salt. It seemed just fine. Unless you follow kosher.
• The house reeked of garlic once we were done with it. I began to frantically search for remedies, but then Toby pointed out that incense would fix everything. Duh. Clearly he is the yin to my yang.
• We squished the rosemary and thyme before adding them to the recipe. Apparently this is what you do with spices to activate the flavor. If you are a baker, not a cook, like me, perhaps this information was helpful to you.
• See the tiny decorative sprig of thyme in the Freep’s finished product? Toby did that to ours, and it looked quite lovely.
• Throughout the creation of this dish, I kept insisting that we needed parsley and sage to go with the rosemary and thyme. Toby rolled his eyes.
• We didn’t think it would take anywhere near 45-50 minutes to melt the cheese, but it did.
• Speaking of melted cheese, we almost went the cheap way and got two wedges of Trader Joe’s brie instead of getting a whole round. The rind keeps the cheese in the bread, so if we had gone the wedge route, we would have had an enormous mess.