Best laid plans and whatnot.
I had every intention to post much more than I have so far this year. But I haven't. Sometime in March (I think, my memory of the past several months has hazed over), I suddenly came down with a massive amount of work. Which is generally good for a freelance editor/writer, but it did become a bit overwhelming when I genuinely lost track of the last time I had had a weekend off or didn't work until 11 at night (or all night in a couple of cases). I missed most of spring, although I tried very hard to pay attention to it while driving to pick up my guys from school and work. But generally I was stressed and overwhelmed. After the biggest projects had been completed, I naturally got sick.
But things have settled down a bit, and I've had some time to reflect on the last few months and recognize that I must change my life (to paraphrase Rilke). Writing, creating, reading, learning--these are the things that mean the most to me (other than family and friends, of course, but they come automatically first; perhaps too much so, I don't consciously recognize their importance as often as I ought to). That includes this blog, this thing that I started (and stopped and tripped over and left lying in a corner and then moved into the spare room and forgot about). So here's a little dish that I have cooked many times over the last few months because it's good (note the plate that has been licked clean below), it's quick, and when you're frustrated, it can be good therapy because of the pounding (see step 2).
- 1 lb (ish) chicken breast halves
- salt, lemon pepper blend
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup chicken stock or broth
- 1-2 tsp Dijon mustard (to taste)
- 1-2 tsp maple syrup (to taste)
- 1 cup half and half
- parsley (fresh if you've got it, but dried will be fine)
- Place a large frying pan on the stove and turn it to medium-high heat to let it heat up.
- Blot the chicken breast halves with paper towels. Then place them between two sheets of wax paper. Pound them thin with the implement of your choosing. (My rolling pin is perfect for this job; you can also use a frying pan, or an actual meat tenderizing device that looks a lot like a hammer. This activity always draws lots of attention from the family, who wonder why I am making so much noise, am I angry, what did the chicken ever do to me, etc. In any case, it can be somewhat cathartic.)
- Remove the top sheet of wax paper and sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts liberally with salt and lemon pepper. I've been using Sunny Spain Seasoning from Penzey's Spices, which is pretty fantastic.
- While you are hammering away, you've allowed your pan to heat up (right?), now add about 2 Tbsp olive oil to the pan and let it heat up until it shimmers. It should only take a minute or two.
- Place your chicken breast halves in the pan and allow them to cook for about 4 minutes per side.
- When the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pan and allow it to rest on a plate that is tented with aluminum foil. (Tented: Means kind of covered with the foil, but bunched up so that the foil doesn't touch the chicken.)
- Add stock, mustard, and maple syrup to the pan. Using a whisk, scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, whisk, and allow the liquid in the pan to reduce to about half. Then add the half and half and season with more lemon pepper, salt (if needed), and parsley. Don't forget to taste it!
- Serve the chicken with the mustard cream and ideally with a blend of roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes that have slightly caramelized, but it's good with just about anything that will soak up the sauce (see figure of plate licked clean).