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Try creating your own sauce when sauting those chicken breasts

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By Norm Harding, Reporter

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the ultimate fast food for family and guests—quick to prepare and low in fat. However, you can substitute chicken thighs for most any recipe calling for breasts, especially if your preference is dark meat.

I’ve seen many articles claiming more than 100 ways to prepare chicken. I’m sure it must be at least 10 times that amount, but before I share a few of my favorites, let’s go over the ABC’s for sautéing chicken breasts for tender, juicy results.

Sautéing Chicken Breasts

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 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet. Add the breasts and cook about 5 minutes, turning once, until golden on the outside and the juices run clear. Remove to a plate. Now all you need to do is decide on your sauce.

Choosing a Sauce

For a creamy mustard sauce, add equal amounts of chicken stock and Dijon mustard along with some sour cream to the skillet. Simmer for about one minute or until slightly thickened, and then add pepper and a little dill weed to the mixture.

For a garlic-lemon sauce, combine chicken stock, minced garlic and a pinch of pepper to the skillet and simmer for about two minutes. Remove from the heat and add some lemon juice, butter and top with parsley.

You can create any kind of sauce to your taste. Try combining chicken stock, white wine and your favorite herb…you decide.

Easy Garlic Chicken

4 chicken breasts (either skin on or skin off)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tsps. crushed garlic

In a large saucepan, combine the garlic and oil. Heat over very low heat to allow flavors to mix. In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Generously dip the chicken in the garlic and oil mixture, and then in the cheese and breadcrumb mixture. Place breasts in a baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. Makes 4 servings.

Crispy Chicken Royale

4-6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1 pkg. herb seasoned stuffing mix

1/2 cup butter, melted

8 oz. sour cream

2 tsp. lemon juice

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. celery salt

1 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

In a bowl or pan, combine sour cream, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, paprika, garlic salt and pepper. Dip chicken breasts into mixture. Empty the package of herb seasoned stuffing mix into a bowl. Roll chicken in the crumb mixture. Roll chicken breast as you would a jelly roll and place in a 9x13 pan. Cover, place in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator about an hour before cooking. Pour melted butter over rolled chicken breasts. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for one hour. Makes 4-6 servings.

Chicken Breasts Baked in Cream

4 bone-in chicken breasts

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 clove of garlic, minced

3/4 cup chicken broth

3/4 cup light cream

1-1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

2 Tbsps. Worcestershire sauce

Brown chicken breasts in oil until golden brown; remove and place in roasting pan. Add onion, garlic, chicken broth, cream and seasonings to the saucepan; heat until not quite boiling. Pour the sauce over chicken breasts. Cover and bake for two hours at 300 degrees. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.

If gravy if desired, blend 3 tablespoons of flour and one cup water into drippings in the pan. Cook 2-3 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Chicken Lo Mein

2 large chicken breasts cut into one-inch cubes

3 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. dry Sherry

2 tsp. cornstarch

8 oz. linguini

1/4 cup olive oil

8 oz. sliced mushrooms

8 oz. fresh pea pods (or 6 oz. frozen)

2-3 green onions (cut into 2 inch pieces)

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 cup chicken broth

In a medium bowl, mix together soy sauce, Sherry and cornstarch. Place chicken in sauce to marinate. In a medium saucepan, saute cubed chicken until cooked through, about 5 minutes; add fresh vegetables. Pour chicken broth over vegetables and cook until sauce thickens slightly. Serve with linguini.

Baked Chicken and Stuffing

4 cups herbed seasoned stuffing mix

4 cups cubed, cooked chicken

1/2 cup celery leaves, chopped

1/4 chopped onion

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

1-1/2 cups water

In a large bowl, combine stuffing mix with chicken, celery leaves, onion and butter. Mix and heat soups with water. Pour over stuffing mix and mix well. Put mixture into buttered 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Texas Two-Step Chicken Picante

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1-1/2 cups Pace Picante sauce

3 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar

2 Tbsp. Dijon-style mustard

3 cups cooked rice

In a small bowl, mix picante sauce, sugar and mustard. Place chicken in a 2-quart shallow baking dish. Pour picante sauce mixture over chicken. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until chicken is done. Serve with rice. Makes 4 servings.

Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at nharding@brunswickbeacon.com.