Friday, June 17, 2011

Lemony Chicken and a Series of Mildly Unfortunate Events

Despite this post’s title, tonight’s meal was a triumph, for I was able to bang it out in near-record time: under half an hour (suck it, Rachael Ray). AND everything was done at once! (Ironically, the meal then had to sit and wait, but we’ll get to that.) Oh, and it was light and healthy fare...well, with the exception of the Rice-a-Roni.

Okay, here’s what happened: The Rob called and said he would be stopping home for dinner, before going back to work for a night project, in about an hour. Prompted for a request, he suggested chicken with lemon sauce, broccoli, and—wait for it—Rice-a-Roni. (I’m not gonna lie: I love the so-called chicken flavor. Don’t judge me, gentle reader.) So, I headed to the Met Foods for groceries.

Mildly unfortunate event #1: The guy in front of me in the checkout line, upon reading his receipt, realized he had been overcharged for turnip greens—$2.99 a pound instead of 99 cents—which led to a heated exchange with the cashier and a protracted process of re-scanning and refunding that included the cashier’s extended disappearance into the produce aisle. As a result, when The Rob called to say he was on his way home, I had just gotten home myself. But I kicked it into high gear.

  • I pounded 1.5 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast flat, trimmed off the fat, and sliced them into small-ish cutlets, yielding 3 pieces per breast.

  • I tossed the chicken in a mix of olive oil and chopped garlic, a sprinkling of dried herbs (basil and what have you), kosher salt, and the grated zest of a lemon.

  • I began preparing the Rice-a-Roni according to package directions.

  • While the ’Roni browned, I chopped the heads of 3 broccoli stalks into florets. (I’ll use the stems, along with leftover florets, for a cream of broccoli soup.) I placed this in a basket steamer like this inside a saucepan with a layer of water, and covered the pan.

  • Once the rice had been simmering for about 5 minutes (meaning it would be ready in about 10 minutes), I turned the heat under the broccoli to high. You want the broccoli to cook until it is bright green and fork-tender.

  • Then I added my chicken pieces to a preheated George Foreman grill—I know, tacky, but it’s fast, and I actually think the G.Fo is good for keeping boneless chicken breasts from drying out.

    To keep milk, yogurt or egg from curdling when added to a hot liquid or sauce, put it in a small heatproof bowl and gradually whisk in a few tablespoons of the hot liquid in a slow stream. Then you can safely whisk the contents of the bowl into the pot cooking on the stovetop.

  • In a small saucepan on low, I melted a big pat of butter and sautéd some more chopped garlic, then added white wine (maybe 1/2 cup?), 3 packets of Grey Poupon mustard (maybe 3 TBSP?), and kosher salt. I brought it to a boil, let it simmer on low for maybe 10 minutes, and added dried herbs and about 1/4 to 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt (tempered—see sidebar). A few minutes before serving, I added some chopped fresh parsley.

    Unfortunate event #2: So, as I said, everything was done cooking—at the same time, no less—but then it turned out The Rob was held up. Erego, I had to keep the food warm for like 5 or 10 extra minutes...and in that time the chicken (which was sitting in the unplugged but still hot G.Fo) got a little dried out after all, and the broccoli a little too wilted.

    Still! It was pretty delicious and pretty healthy, and the sauce (which I also applied liberally to the broccoli) supplied the needed moisture to the chicken. And as planned, there’s leftover chicken to slice up for sandwiches and/or salad, and leftover broccoli for the aforementioned cream of broccoli (I think I’ll also try adding the leftover lemon sauce, to give the broth a nice tang). Of course, I plan on blogging about said soup soon...failing any show-stopping unfortunate events.

  • 1 comment:

    1. i too love fake chicken flavor- have you ever had "chicken n a biskit" crackers?
      they are the best fake chicken flavor ever!