Monday, January 17, 2011

opening night for the bird: rosemary garlic chicken performs

I am venturing into new territory--preparing chicken as a solo feature. Normally, I don't cook meat. If I'm cooking for people who need some protein and don't eat tofu, I'm willing to chop up some meat and toss it into a stew or curry where I admit, it offers little value other than its protein nutrition. In these meals, cubes of chicken or beef remain disguised by soupy goodness that holds the real flavor. Stand-alone chicken kind of scares me--it means you actually have to cook the meat properly and figure out a way to balance bringing out its own natural flavor and infusing it with additional, palate-pleasing tastes. To be honest, I'd rather just order a chicken or steak dish once in while at a restaurant where I know it will be cooked to perfection, and I don't have to deal with any gross meat juices or finicky roasting thermometers. But what can I say, the boy likes his chicken, and I'm getting annoyed at the outrageous prices Bi-Rite charges for their pre-made meats. So, I'm going out on a limb and re-visiting some of the meat-as-a-star-player recipes that I posted into my recipe book back in my more chicken-friendly days.

This recipe caught my eye because below it, I have written out several variations provided by the recipe source that require several substitutions but essentially are the same preparation technique. Perfect, I thought--if the rosemary-garlic chicken works out, then I have four new chicken recipes that I basically know how to cook!

The rosemary-garlic chicken did in the end turn out nicely--the glazed sauce ensured that the chicken breasts were not dry or tasteless as I'd feared--and were super easy to make. Chicken's opening night in our Mission kitchen got positive reviews (from the two resident critics), so I'm thinking that one of the substitute actors--lemony goat-cheese chicken, curried chicken, and coconut chicken--may be featured pretty soon. Tonight's recipe (served with sauteed kale and roasted root vegetables) is as follows:

4 boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves
1tbl olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup sherry vinegar ( I used red wine vinegar which turned out fine)
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tbl fresh rosemary leaves
1 tbl unsalted butter

Use rolling pin to pound chicken between two sheets of wax paper until they are of uniform thickness. Heat oil and garlic in large skillet over medium-high heat until oil shimmers and garlic browns. Add the chicken breasts and cook until golden, 3-5 minutes on each side. Add the salt, pepper, vinegar, chicken broth and rosemary. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 3 minutes longer or until chicken is fork-tender. Remove the chicken to a platter and keep warm. Increase heat to high and boil the sauce until thickened or syrupy, 3-5 minutes. Whisk in the butter and pour the sauce over the chicken.

p.s. I'm not quite sure how I ended up writing about cooking chicken as if it were a stage production, except I'm wondering if the fact that I saw Black Swan in the theaters this weekend has something to do with it...apologies. :)

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