Thursday, February 16, 2012

Weeknight nage for busy gourmets

The recipe I posted earlier this week is good but complicated. 
It took Jim a whole afternoon to prepare this wonderful dinner: 

What follows is my simplified version for two people. It takes about 30 minutes to fix, and is a good way to flavor up chicken breasts. It also looks impressive. If you don't care for cilantro, use flat-leaf parsley instead.

Lori K's Chicken Breasts in Rustic Nage
Serves 2
Recipe ©2012  Lori Korleski Richardson
For the nage
1 small minced shallot
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 small bunch cilantro, stemmed
1/4 cup packed spinach leaves
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces white or brown mushrooms, sliced

For the rest
2 small chicken breasts
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
Spray olive oil
8 baby carrots
4 spears asparagus
1/2 yellow bell pepper
2 cups boiling water
1 pack (4.1 ounce) Idahoan Baby Reds instant mashed potatoes
4 sprigs cilantro, for garnish

To start the nage, combine the minced shallot and wine in a small, heavy, nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced to 1 tablespoon. Add the cream and return just to a boil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

Put the cilantro and spinach in freezer zip bag and partially close. Microwave until just wilted. Seal the bag and throw the bag into the freezer to chill. Put the stock and garlic into a blender, along with a little salt and pepper. Take the bag out of the freezer, drain the greens, squeeze out any excess water and add to the stock and garlic. Process until smooth. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over high heat, add the mushrooms and sauté for 4 minutes. Set aside.

Using the microwave, cook the baby carrots in a bowl with a little water until tender, about 4 minutes. Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus, then put them in a freezer zip bag and partially close; cook about 2 minutes or until bright green. Cut the ribs and seeds off the yellow bell pepper and cut into 8 strips. Cook in a freezer zip bag until just well heated. Drain all these, season with a little salt and pepper and keep warm.

Pound the chicken breasts until they are about a 1/4-inch thick. Season with salt and pepper and spray with olive oil. Heat a cast-iron shallow skillet to hot over high heat. Sauté the breasts on one side until they are very white around the edges. Flip and cook about a minute less on the other side. Remove the pan from the heat and let the breasts rest in the pan for 1 minute.

As you do this, boil the water for the potatoes. Add the pouch of potatoes all at once and stir well to moisten. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, finish preparing the nage: Reheat the cream mixture, and add the cilantro-spinach purée and the mushrooms. Bring just to a boil, then remove from the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside and keep warm.

To serve, put 1/2 cup mashed potatoes in the center of each of 2 warmed shallow bowls. Spoon the  nage evenly around the potatoes, then place one chicken breast on top of each serving of mashed potatoes. Arrange the vegetables on and around the chicken. Garnish with cilantro springs.

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