Wednesday, April 4, 2012

In the House ~ Chicken Breasts with Lemon Pappardelle and Sweet Peppers

My cooking process: hunt for quality produce (not an easy thing in our desert community), admire (and often photograph) the conquest, then fret about how best to use it in a delicious meal. Which means I am attempting to spontaneously cook only what I have in house  This has been nerve wrecking for someone who usually charts out a week of recipes. Surprisingly, I am finding the challenging oddly satisfying. This dish started with the desire to use a bounty of sweet peppers and a couple of chicken breasts and unfolded into learning how to cook the perfect chicken breast. I love that! 

This method of cooking chicken was new to me but it is now in my weekly rotation. It comes from Faith Duran at "the Kitchn" blog. Faith suggests cooking up a pound of these at a time and using them in meals throughout the week. Is it possible to be that organized?!!
Perfectly Cooked Chicken Breasts
1 to 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon freshly chopped herbs (optional)
Olive oil
1/2 tablespoon butter

 ~You will need a 10-inch sauté pan, with a lid.
~Pound whole chicken breasts so they have an even thickness.
~Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts
~Prepare the flour for dredging, adding 1/2 tsp. salt and some pepper, and finely chopped herbs
~Heat the pan over med-high, when it is hot add olive oil and butter, swirl to cover bottom of pan
~Dredge the chicken breasts in flour mixture
~Turn heat to medium, add the chicken breasts. Cook for 1 minute, they will get a little golden on one   side. Flip each chicken breast over.
~Turn the heat to low, put the lid on the pan, set the timer for 10 minutes and walk away!! DO NOT LIFT THE LID!! no peeking!!
~After 10 minutes, turn OFF the heat and reset the timer for 10 more minutes. DO NOT LIFT THE LID, no peeking either!
~After 10 minutes, remove the lid and you should have soft, tender and juicy chicken breasts that you could use for any number of meals. Make sure to check that there is no pink in the middle. Slice and serve.

 Voilà! Perfectly moist, juicy chicken breasts in 20 minutes! Really!

Chicken Breasts with Lemon Pappardelle and Sweet Peppers
Serves 2-3

2 Perfectly cooked chicken breasts (as above) sliced into bite-size pieces
1 bag of Trader Joe's Lemon Pepper Pappardelle, cook "al dente" in salted water (careful not to overcook) and drain, adding a little olive oil to the drained pasta to keep it from sticking together
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil ~ less oil will work, if you prefer
2 sweet peppers ( I used one orange and one red), prepared and cut into 1/2" pieces
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Italian parsley and Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)

In a 10-inch sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-high, when hot, add chopped peppers and garlic...careful, as the water in the peppers may pop. Sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, reduce the heat or remove from heat if you start to see the garlic browning to quickly. Carefully mix the hot oil and peppers with the pappardelle and sliced chicken (the heat of the oil will heat he chicken and pasta perfectly), top with chopped Italian parsley and  grated Parmigiano Reggiano, serve with a salad and crusty bread. Enjoy!!

Is your mind clicking with dozens of ways to use the chicken breasts? Of course, you could use any combination of veggies and pasta as well. I found the flavored pasta gave the dish some depth and TJ's is my favorite. It's what's in the house!!

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