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Dinner in Minutes: Bronze, don't blacken, that chicken

| Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, 8:39 p.m.
Bronzed chicken breasts with rice and Spanish pilaf is a quick meal. MCT)

My advice to people at home is bronzing rather that blackening,” Paul Prudhomme says. “This avoids the smoke and the risk of handling a red-hot skillet while still achieving an excellent result.”

Prudhomme, one of America's favorite chefs and the father of blackened redfish, gave me this advice during an interview. His Bronzed Chicken Breasts can cook indoors without smoke, and the chicken stays juicy. The secret is to keep the skillet at the right temperature. The chicken should take 6 to 7 minutes to cook. If it takes much longer, the skillet is not hot enough.

Use the Cajun spice mixture given in the recipe, or use 1 tablespoon prepared Cajun spice seasoning mix.

The Spinach Rice Pilaf recipe is easy to make and takes fewer than 20 minutes to cook. You can use microwaveable rice instead and stir the spinach into the rice as soon as the rice is cooked. The spinach will wilt in the heat of the cooked rice.

This dish, which is spicy flavorful thoughout, but not spicy-hot, would be wonderful with a rich, white viognier.

Linda Gassenheimer is a food writer for the Miami Herald.

Bronzed Chicken Breasts

¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons olive oil

Pound the chicken breasts flat to about ½- to ¾-inch thick with a meat bat or heavy skillet. Mix the cayenne pepper, garlic powder, oregano and thyme. Spoon half of the spice mix onto one side of the chicken breasts, pressing it into the flesh. Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat and add the oil. When it is very hot, add the chicken breasts, seasoned side down. Spread the remaining spice mixture on the top side of the chicken. Cook until the underside is bronze in color, for 2 to 3 minutes. Cook the second side for 3 to 4 minutes or until cooked through. A meat thermometer should read 170 degrees. Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 239 calories, 9 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 108 milligrams cholesterol, 36 grams protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram dietary fiber, 199 milligrams sodium

Rice and Spinach Pilaf

1 teaspoon olive oil

½ cup long-grain white rice

1 cup low-salt tomato juice

1 cup water, more if needed

2 cups washed, ready-to-eat spinach

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a medium-size, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the rice and saute for 1 minute. Add the tomato juice and water. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat, cover and gently simmer for 15 minutes. If the pan becomes dry, add a little more water. Stir in the spinach. It will wilt in the heat of the rice. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 216 calories, 3 grams fat (0 saturated), 0 cholesterol, 5 grams protein, 43 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber, 38 milligrams sodium

Shopping list:

Here are the ingredients you'll need for tonight's Dinner in Minutes.

To buy: ¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 1 small bottle low-salt tomato juice, and 1 package washed, ready-to-eat spinach.

Staples: Olive oil, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, garlic powder, dried thyme, long-grain white rice, salt and black peppercorns.

Hints:

An electric frying pan can be used instead of a skillet. Keep the temperature at 350 degrees.

Cajun spice mixes can be found in the spice section of the supermarket.

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