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Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the ultimate fast food for family and guests—quick to prepare and low in fat. But if you’re like me, they can be boring. You throw them in a skillet and then wonder, “Now what?”
A magazine once published more than 50 ways to prepare chicken. I’ve since decided that figure must be closer to 5,000!
Before I share a few of my favorites, let’s review the best way to saut chicken breasts for tender, juicy, anything-but-boring results. You’ll need four boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 5 oz. each) for four servings.
Place the breasts smooth side down and gently pull off fillets (tenders) so breasts will cook evenly (save the fillets for a stir-fry). Coat breasts with mixture of flour, salt and pepper. Shake off excess.
Next, heat about 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet. Add the breasts and cook about 5 minutes, turning once, until golden on outside and juices run clear. Remove to a plate. Now all you need to do is choose your sauce.
For a creamy mustard sauce, add 1/4-cup each of chicken stock and Dijon mustard along with 1/2-cup sour cream to the skillet. Simmer for about one minute or until slightly thickened, then add pepper and a little dill weed to the mixture.
For a garlic-lemon sauce, add 1/2-cup chicken stock, 1/2-tsp. minced garlic and 1/4-tsp. pepper to the skillet and simmer for about 2 minutes. Once off the heat, add 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1 tsp. butter and top with parsley.
You can create any kind of sauce to your taste. Add chicken stock, white wine and your favorite herbeeyou decide. Have fun with your cooking. Be creative!
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, try these chicken recipes that are among my favorites. They’re fun, easy to make and use ingredients normally found in your kitchen or garden.
Chicken with Parmesan, Brown Butter and Sage Sauce
This is one of my favorite chicken recipes. I have made it time and again for friends and relatives at their request.
It is simple, but reminds me of the type of meal that was made tableside at many restaurants in the ’60s. This is best served at the table, so guests can hear the “crackle” when the sage sauce is spooned over the cheese!
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp. butter (for cooking chicken)
2 sticks butter (8 ounces)
2 cups whole sage leaves, loosely packed with stems removed
1-16 oz. pkg. linguini, cooked “al dente”
In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook chicken in butter on both sides until juices run clear, about 10 minutes (Chicken can also be grilled, if you prefer). Remove and keep warm.
Add 2 sticks butter to the skillet. Bring to a boil over medium heat; stir to loosen brown bits from pan. Add whole sage leaves; continue over medium heat just until butter starts to brown. Do not overheat or butter will burn.
Place each chicken breast on a bed of linguini and top with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Spoon the hot, sage sauce over the cheese, being sure to be generous with the crisp, sage leaves. Best to serve the sauce at the table, so guests can here the “crackle” when the sauce is placed on the cheese! Makes 4 servings.
This recipe really satisfies my craving for Chinese food. I serve it over rice and steamed vegetables on the side and usually double the sauce to make it especially decadent. It is a nice low-fat alternative to the restaurant- style sesame chicken.
1/4 cup flour
1/8 tsp. black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsps. sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup chives, chopped
2 Tbsps. oil
Combine the flour and pepper in a zipper bag. Add the chicken and shake to coat. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink. Remove from skillet. And the soy sauce and sugar to the pan. Cook and stir until the sugar is melted.
Stir in the oil and sesame seeds. Add the chicken and chives and stir to coat.
Makes 4 servings.
Chicken la King
Created by Chef George Greenwald at the Brighten Beach Hotel in New York in the early 1900s, this is a dish consisting of diced chicken, mushrooms, green peppers and pimientos in a cream sherry sauce served on toast.
As the story goes, Chef Greenwald prepared a special chicken dish one evening for the owners, Mr. and Mrs. E. Clark King II.
The next day, either Mr. King loved it and wanted it on the menu or Chef Greenwald asked if he could put it on the menu. In either case, it was added to the menu as Chicken la King and quickly became a great success.
The following is the recipe for chicken a la king taken from a brochure obtained from the Brighton Beach Hotel, where this dish might have originated.
“Melt 2 tablespoonfuls of butter in a pot and then add 1/2 of a green pepper shredded and 1 cup of mushrooms sliced thin. Stir and cook 5 minutes and then add 2 level tablespoonfuls of flour and 1/2 teaspoonful of salt. Cook until frothy and then add 1 pint of cream and stir until sauce thickens. Put this all in a double boiler, add 3 cups of cooked chicken cut in pieces and let stand to get very hot.
In the meantime, take 1/4 cup of butter and beat into it the yolks of 3 eggs, teaspoonful of onion juice, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoonful of paprika. Stir this mixture until the eggs thicken a little.
Combine the two, add a little sherry and finally shredded pimiento before serving on toast.”
Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at email@example.com.