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

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