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America's Secret Shame: Dull Chicken-Breast Recipes

April 01, 1993|BEV BENNETT

There's a second deficit facing the American people, one that is not being recognized--the shortage of appealing chicken breast recipes.

It's obvious from looking in the meat case in the supermarket, where chicken breasts in various forms (from bone and skin on to boneless and skinless) are heaped high, that this cut of poultry is in big demand.

But though seemingly everyone wants to make the switch, either because chicken breast meat is relatively low in fat or because it cooks in minutes, it can be a sacrifice. Unfortunately, it is bland--and no one wants to give up flavor.

So it's time to stimulate the imagination, put seasonings to work and create a positive chicken policy. In this recipe, shallot, mushrooms, Sherry, cream and mustard transform the bland breast into a rich dish that can be prepared in minutes. And if you value chicken for its low-fat virtues, you can simply cut the cream.

BAKED CHICKEN BREAST WITH TARRAGON-FLAVORED RICE

2 large chicken breast halves, skinned and boned

Salt

Freshly ground white pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1 cup chopped mushrooms

1/4 cup dry Sherry

1/3 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Tarragon-Flavored Rice

Place chicken between 2 sheets wax paper and pound to even 1/2-inch thickness. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in medium oven-proof skillet. Add shallot and mushrooms and saute over medium heat 5 minutes. Push mushroom mixture to side of skillet. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add chicken to skillet and brown on both sides over medium-high heat, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

Stir together Sherry, cream, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt and white pepper to taste in cup. Pour sauce over chicken. Stir in mushroom-shallot mixture. Bake at 450 degrees until chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, prepare rice. Chicken can stand, covered, while rice finishes.

To serve, spoon Tarragon-Flavored Rice onto serving plate. Top with chicken and sauce. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

Note: For reduced-fat version of this dish, saute mushroom mixture and chicken in olive oil until done, 5 to 6 minutes per side, not just until browned. Remove mushroom mixture and chicken from skillet to serving dishes. Add Sherry to skillet and cook over high heat, scraping up browned bits until sauce is syrupy, about 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon mustard or to taste. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken and mushrooms. Serve rice on side.

Tarragon-Flavored Rice

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

3/4 cup converted rice

1/4 teaspoon crushed dried tarragon

Salt

Freshly ground white pepper

Bring chicken broth to boil in small pan. Stir in rice and tarragon. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until rice is tender and broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Toss gently. Makes 2 servings.

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