Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Recipe

Someone I love accused me of making her look bad by my cooking gourmet foods.  So I thought I’d share one of my gourmet recipes with you all.  That way you can all be impressed with my kitchen prowess.  Today we will be making Pan Roasted Chicken with Figs, Honey and Balsamic, served over Goat Cheese Polenta.  Sounds really fancy and intimidating, right?  
The inspiration for this dish came early one morning while feeding Little Lady.  I looked at the menu for the week and noticed today’s dinner was chicken.  As if that narrows it down.  I thought about how to prepare said chicken for all of five seconds before getting distracted with Little Lady and facebook.  After she fell asleep, I started looking at vacation pictures and wishing we were in Portland again.  I thought about the beach.  I thought about the beer.  I thought about the food carts and that crepe.  The crepe with goat cheese, figs, and prosciutto. Lord that crepe was good.  Then I remembered that I have figs and goat cheese.  And the google searched commenced.  
Whenever I look for recipes online, my goal is to find the most impressive and intimidating gourmet foods to pin so all my friends feel lousy about their sub par meatloaves and BBQ chickens.   Not! (how lame 90’s am I right now??)  I am just an adventurous cook.  I like throwing caution to the wind, trying new things and making them my own.  Recipes are just guidelines meant to be changed to fit the needs of the cook.  And I do love meatloaf.  We just had that on Sunday.  
So I stumbled upon this chicken with figs and goat cheese and it sounded so yummy.  There wasn't anything too crazy in the ingredients list, making it perfect for dinner that night.  I opted to use dried figs because 1. I had an unopened package left over from the infamous Thanksgiving bird, 2. I don’t think the Super Walmart sells fresh figs, and 3. even if they did, I wouldn’t have the faintest idea what they look like or how to buy good ones.  
About 4pm, I realized I forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer.  I only grabbed two breasts because if there is one thing Walmart does sell, it is super-sized chicken.  Chicken went into a hot water bath in the kitchen sink for a quick thaw.  
I checked over the recipe and put the rest of the ingredients on the counter.  I try to have everything out to start and then put things away after I’ve used them.  That way I’m less likely to, say, forget the cinnamon in a carrot cake.  As if I’d ever do that.  Ahem.  
As I read through the recipe I decided to make this a one dish wonder to save on the washing later.  Doing dishes is my least favorite task.  It’s even worse than folding laundry.  And that is saying something, my friends.  But back to dinner.  Technically, it would be a two dish meal since the polenta needs its own pan, but two ain’t bad.  
Hot oil in the pan.  I opt to thinly slice the chicken before cooking it because 1. It it still kinda frozen, 2. It will cook faster and Little Man is moaning about how he is starving to death already, 3. It coats each bite in sauce and I’m all about big flavor.  Frozen slices go in the pan.  I think about slicing the figs but don’t want to dirty another cutting board and knife.  Figs go in the pan.  I take out the aged (meaning it has been on my shelf for a few years) bottle of balsamic vinegar and see there isn’t much left.  Why bother measuring?  I deglaze the pan with the rest of the vinegar.  The honey is crystallized and won’t pour out of the bottle.  I read the words “Do Not Microwave in Container” as it is whirling around in the microwave and say a quick prayer that harmful chemicals that will kill us aren’t leeching into the honey, or at the very least, please don’t let it taste like plastic.  The honey tastes fine, into the pan it goes.   I didn’t measure that either.  I struggle to not add garlic.  How can any good recipe not have garlic?  I think about eating a little fresh garlic just because, but then Little Man will want some too and that is two more spoons to wash.  Wow, I’m really lazy.
I start to make the polenta.  Oh crap, I don’t have any stock.  Water will work.  I contemplate adding bacon fat for flavor.  Cause, you know, bacon fat is always a good substitute for chicken broth…  I don’t add bacon fat.   I half the butter because I have a conscience.  And I like my heart.  I forget to add a cup of milk.  Crap, this polenta will be bland and not creamy.  I add some half and half to make up for it.  Now only Mike’s morning coffee will not be creamy since the half and half is now gone.  I put the empty container back in the fridge and hope he doesn’t realize it was me who finished it.  So much for cutting the fat.  I try to get away with skimping on the goat cheese, too.  Not because I’m worried about the fat, but because even with Walmart’s ridiculously low prices, goat cheese is still a major splurge and usually reserved for vegetarian meals.  I think about how great it would be to win the lottery and get paid in goat cheese.  I taste it.  It’s pretty good, but I really want more goat cheese.  
Little Man helped make asparagus while I stirred the polenta and held Little Lady as far away from the stove as possible.  He is a good asparagus snapper and pepper grinder.  I drizzle some olive oil on it and broil it for 6 minutes.   
So there you have it. .  A gourmet meal that sounds and tastes impressive, but in reality, is super quick and easy to make.   The hardest part was doing the dishes.  It tasted amazing and we will definitely make it again.
Here is the recipe and the link to the restaurant where it came from.

Pan Roasted Chicken Breast with Figs, Honey & Balsamic served over Goat Cheese Polenta 
Recipe serves 6 people.
Chicken Breast (skin on) 6 each
Fresh Figs(diced) 6 each
Honey 3/4 cup
Balsamic Vinegar 1/3 cup
Instant Polenta 8 ounces
Chicken Stock 3 cups
Milk 1 cup
Goat Cheese 6 ounces
Butter 1 stick
1. For the polenta, bring the chicken stock, milk and butter to a boil.
2. Add the polenta, whisk and turn the heat down the simmer.
3. Simmer for about 5 minutes, whisking every 30 seconds or so.
4. Add the goat cheese and season with salt and pepper.
5. Heat a large sauté pan with olive oil on high.
6. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper on both sides.
7. Add the chicken to the pan, skin side down, in the pan.
8. Turn the heat down to medium.
9. Cook for about 4 minutes until crispy.
10. Flip the chicken and cook for about 4 more minute depending on the thickness.
11. The internal temperature should be around 160 degrees. You can use a meat thermometer to check the cooking temperature.
12. Take the chicken out of the pan and pour off any excess fat or oil.
13. Add the figs to the hot pan and sauté for about 30 seconds.
14. Add the vinegar and honey and bring to a boil.
15. Season with salt and black pepper.
To serve, place the polenta on the plate, top with the chicken and drizzle the sauce over the top.

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