Sunday, March 16, 2008

Some days I invent the best stuff!

I'm doing a brickload of cooking this weekend. Part of this is because I haven't done
it in a long time and I finally have had the mood hit so I'm taking advantage. Part of it is that Amy is about to have a baby and I promised her some dinners for the freezer so she and Jason can have a few easy, or easier, at any rates, nights to look forward to. And so I'm not cooking for two lunches, but for one dinner for two and for a lunch. I made Baked Ziti with my homemade pasta sauce with pancetta, and Pinot Beef (like Burgundy but with a marvelous Oregon Pinot Noir and no pearl onions) and right now there's a Pumpkin Sage Bread Pudding in the oven next to Apple Pumpkin Pork Balls (I'm hoping they'll turn out well and deserving of the humorous name, to be eaten alongside the savory pudding.) And I invented a Chicken Piccata variation.

I couldn't help myself. Ever since this season's "Top Chef" opener, when one of the challenges was to make a good Chicken Piccata, I've been craving it. And so I got out a couple of chicken breasts, beat the snot out of them (well, beat the fat out of them, although my finger started aching so they never got as thin as piccata should be) and started sauteeing. And adding interesting things. And invented something totally delicious. To whit:

New England Chicken Piccata
Serves 4

Oil for frying
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Lemon Pepper, and marjoram or thyme if desired
4-6 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 stick butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
Water or broth if needed

Heat a skillet to medium high and heat the oil. Put chicken breasts between 2 pieces of waxed paper and pound to as thin as you can get it. (I left them fairly thick and sliced it up afterwards.) Season chicken on both sides with lemon pepper and additional herbs if using. (Note that I never add salt while cooking so you can add it here if you want to.) Start oven preheating to 300. Brown chicken well on both sides. Remove to a baking dish and put in oven to finish cooking. Add lemon juice and butter to pan to deglaze. When it starts to thicken, add maple syrup and mustard. Taste and adjust for personal preference, adding water or broth if mixture gets too thick. Keep sauce warm and serve over chicken when it tests done. Serve over rice or noodles.

This stuff is so damn good I can't wait to have it for lunch!

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