Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dinner last night--Warm mixed green salad with chicken and pomegranite-redwine viniagrette

Last night's dinner was pretty good, if I do say so myself, though it has room for improvements. I started off with no plan except that we had frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts, and a bag of mixed salad greens. I haven't had much time for cooking decent food in the last couple of weeks, so it felt really good. Here's what I ended up doing:

Pound the chicken breasts with a meat mallet until even thickness maybe 1/4-3/8" thick. Salt and pepper each side (I use Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper). I actually used some Emeril's Bayou blast on one side of the chicken, but ended up doing an overall non-cajun flavor, so would just salt and pepper next time. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in skillet over medium heat until shimmery. Add chicken breasts and sear (don't move them) till browned on the bottom--3-4 minutes? (I never watch a clock, and was attempting to do dishes, talk to Charlotte, and not stress over an increasingly fussy baby at that point). Once seared, the chicken releases easily from the pan (I use heavy stainless steel pans, not nonstick). Flip chicken and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through (maybe 5-10 minutes)--use a instant read thermometer to check temp if you're not sure. Pounding the meat first makes this part go really fast and everything cooks evenly. Remove chicken from pan to a plate, and tent loosely with foil.

While chicken cooks, chop a small white onion into thin slices (maybe 1/8" wide, 1" long or so). I only used half an onion, and ended up regretting it later, definitely the whole would have been tastier. After taking the chicken out of the pan, return it to the stove, and add the onions. Don't clean it or anything--all the brown bits are good in the sauce. If the pan is too dry, then add a tad more olive oil. Saute the onions until they start looking translucent. I deglazed the pan with Red Wine Pomegranite vinegar--I probably used 1/4 cup or so, but could easily have doubled that. Also added about 1 Tbsp of brown sugar. Scrape all the brown bits (pan sauces make for nice clean skillets, don't ya know), and then simmer the vinegar until it's thickened and about half the volume--maybe another 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, pour any accumulated juices from the plate holding the chicken into the sauce. When the sauce looks nicely thickened, add chicken breasts back in for 1-2 minutes on a side so they soak up some flavor. Remove them from the pan again and cut into 1/2 inch strips. Take the sauce off the heat, and stir in about 1Tbsp butter (the real stuff, if you please).

Mound the salad greens on a plate. Top with strips of warm cooked chicken. Drizzle the pan sauce and sautéed onions on top (call it dressing). I had some toasted slivered almonds in the pantry, which added a nice crunch. The salad could also stand some cheese--maybe feta or queso fresco or something else crumbly but soft (we didn't have any). I sprinkled a little freshly ground sea salt on top as well to offset the sweetness of the dressing/sauce. Total time from meat mallet to table: about 30 minutes. Charlotte loved hers--I kept her salad separated into piles so she could pick and choose how much lettuce vs chicken she ate (some of each, btw, and all of her nuts).

We had Bisquick biscuits on the side (with some parmesan cheese and dried herbs mixed in)--not the best side dish, but they got done while I was cooking everything else and rounded out the otherwise veggie-meat meal. Then the 3 of us shared a banana split for dessert. Charlotte wanted a banana, and wanted her daddy to have one too, and me to have ice cream (bossy little thing that she is). So I layered a split banana with 3 small scoops of ice cream, some sliced strawberries (the non-fuzzy ones left from several days ago), some Magic Shell, and cool whip. Yummy. I think she mostly had bananas and cool whip and I mostly had ice cream and chocolate sauce, and both of us were happy. My husband declined to eat more than a bite or two (he claims to not like sweets....though I don't always believe him).

Last night was supposed to be Trystan's big foray into solid food--I have a box of baby oatmeal ready in the cupboard. However, a day lacking in naps caught up to him and he crashed about 5 minutes before 7 when our dinner was done (and stayed down all night, though he did wake to nurse). So, tonight's his night instead :)

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