Healthy in a hurry: Get out of your chicken rut
It's easy to get into a rut cooking the same old chicken recipes every week.
When I was growing up, my mom had a huge stack of chicken cookbooks (and still does), which she would use to plan our weekly menu. Sure, she had her standbys, but she always tried different recipes each month. She'd make notes alongside a recipe to remind her how she tweaked it, or what she'd do differently next time. I'm glad she had those cookbooks, because we had chicken at least three times a week back then. And if you're an omnivore, chicken is most likely for dinner more than once a week at your house, too.
Change is good -- especially when you're cooking. Trying new recipes can help you learn about new foods, find out about ingredients you've never used and discover easy substitutions for making foods you know and love healthier. One of my new favorite recipes is Chicken Breasts With Mushroom Cream Sauce. First off, it's a recipe for two -- perfect for my household, but it easily can be doubled. The touch of vermouth in the dish adds sophistication. It's a great way to learn how to make a creamy pan sauce with a mere 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. And the sauce is so rich and delicious that you'll never miss the rest of the fat.
Chicken Breasts With Mushroom Cream Sauce
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
The secret to a good cream sauce always is the same: not too much cream or it can be overpowering, masking the more delicate flavors. Here, it contains a bountiful amount of mushrooms and is served over chicken breasts.
Tip: It's difficult to find an individual chicken breast small enough for one portion. Removing the thin strip of meat from the underside of a 5-ounce breast -- the "tender" -- removes about 1 ounce of meat and yields a perfect 4-ounce portion. Wrap and freeze the tenders, and when you have gathered enough, use them in a stir-fry or for oven-baked chicken fingers.
- 2 (5-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and tenders removed (see tip)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 medium-size green onion, minced
- 1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
- 2 tablespoons dry vermouth or dry white wine
- 1⁄4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives or the green part of a green onion
Season the chicken with pepper and salt on both sides.
Heat the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 12 to 16 minutes, turning once or twice and adjusting the heat to prevent burning, until it is brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165 degrees. Transfer to a plate and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Add the green onion to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, for about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, for about 2 minutes. Pour in the vermouth (or wine); simmer until almost evaporated, scraping up any browned bits, for about 1 minute. Pour in the broth and cook until reduced by half, for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the cream and chives (or green onions); return to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan, turn to coat with the sauce and cook until heated through, for about 1 minute.
Makes 2 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 274 calories, 15 grams fat (5 grams saturated), 83 milligrams cholesterol, 25 grams protein, 5 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram dietary fiber, 425 milligrams sodium