Last night my husband wasn’t feeling too good, so I scrapped the recipe I had planned to make. Instead, I simply pan-roasted a chicken breast. Once the chicken was browned on both sides, I added a few wedges of cabbage to the pan and sprinkled them with salt, pepper, minced garlic and a little olive oil. I covered the pan and let it cook over a lower heat until the chicken was cooked through and the cabbage had softened and browned on the edges. It was simple and delicious.
Earlier in the day, I had made a lemon and herb mayonnaise, which I drizzled over the chicken to give it a little oomph. However, the mayonnaise turned out a little thinner than I like, and the olive oil taste was overwhelming. I haven’t yet perfected my recipe for mayonnaise, and it seems like each cookbook has a different way of making it. I do think that the delicate flavors of mayonnaise just cannot stand up to the strong flavor of olive oil, and it’s better to use a more neutral oil (unless you’re making something like aioli, with all that garlic). Or at least substitute half neutral oil for the olive oil called for in some recipes. I’ll keep working on it. I really want to be able to make a good mayonnaise every time.
Tonight, if my husband is feeling up to it, I’m going to try to poach salmon using Thomas Keller’s technique from Ad Hoc at Home. Plus roasted brussels sprouts. I haven’t had brussels sprouts all winter.
Pan-roasted boneless chicken breasts with tomato pan sauce
Aren’t those chicken breasts gorgeous? I often pan-roast bone-in chicken breasts using a combination of stovetop and oven cooking. But I tend to use other techniques for cooking boneless chicken breasts, such as pan-frying. Now I have found a foolproof technique for pan-roasting boneless chicken breasts with meaty, juicy results, and it has become my favorite method for cooking chicken.
This recipe works best with meaty, organic chicken breasts. They need to be thick, or they’ll cook too fast, and organic chicken tends to be more flavorful and juicy. Here is the technique:
- For two chicken breasts, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over high.
- Pat the chicken dry and season with salt, pepper and any other seasoning you prefer.
- Add the chicken to the pan and cook without disturbing until the bottom side is well browned, about 2-3 minutes. You may want to reduce the heat to medium-high if the chicken is browning too quickly.
- Flip the chicken using tongs and brown the other side for another 2 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cover the pan.
- Cook the chicken through, another 8-10 minutes, depending on the thickness. Flip once or twice while the chicken is cooking, but otherwise keep it covered.
Serve topped with a simple sauce. You can make a pan sauce in the same pan where you cooked the chicken. Pictured above is pan-roasted chicken with a simple pan sauce made from tomatoes, scallions and vinegar. I have also used salsa and compound butter with good results.
I always make one extra chicken breast and use it for sandwiches and salads. This is just a great method for cooking chicken!
This past week we have been eating a lot of asparagus. I love asparagus, not only because it tastes good, because asparagus means spring is here.
We’ve been having a strange spring, weather-wise. By this time, I’m looking forward to beautiful days of blue skies, temperatures in the mid 70s and colorful flowers busting out all over the place. Instead, the temperature has been fluctuating wildly from day to day, from the 80s one day to the 50s the next — but never that perfect 72 degrees I’ve been longing for. It’s been rainy, gray and windy, more like mid-March than mid-April. I’m missing our normal glorious spring, but maybe it will appear in another couple of weeks or so.
Regardless, the asparagus is here. My favorite way to eat asparagus is roasted, either in the oven or, even easier, pan-roasted. Roasting changes the flavor of asparagus dramatically, deepens it and brings out the earthiness of the vegetable. Roasted asparagus doesn’t need a lot of seasoning, just some olive oil, salt and pepper, maybe a little lemon juice or a dash of balsamic vinegar, if you’re so inclined.
I learned this method for pan-roasting asparagus from Cook’s lllustrated, and it always turns out delicious:
- Snap off the woody ends of about 1 lb. of asparagus spears (thicker stems work better for this recipe).
- In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter over medium-high until the oil is shimmering.
- Add the asparagus spears to the pan in a single layer with half the tips pointing in one direction and half the tips pointing in the other.
- Cover and let cook about 5 minutes, until the spears turn bright green.
- Uncover and continue to roast until the spears are browned to your liking, shaking occasionally, another 5-6 minutes.
- Season and serve.
This method serves 2-4 people, depending on how much you like asparagus.
If you have leftover pan-roasted asparagus, slice the spears and toss them cold with mixed baby salad greens and a little oil and vinegar. Shave some Parmesan on top for a delicious quick salad.