by John Ryan
The pan to use is a straight-sided skillet with a lid.
Though it looks like a laundry list of ingredients, it's not a big deal. In fact, you probably have most of them on hand right now. But as you look over the recipe, notice that it doesn't use a speck of fat. No oil, no butter, no bacon grease, nothing. But this isn't diet fare. It's simply good and happens to use no fat.
Three things are important when cooking meat in a dry pan. 1) The chicken is dry. 2) The floured chicken is immediately put into a hot pan. And 3) You shake the pan like you were making popcorn.
Keep those things in mind and the chicken won't stick, it'll skate around the pan. On the other hand, if the flour-coated chicken sits on the counter, juices will seep out, make the chicken tacky, and it'll stick like crazy. Likewise, putting the chicken in a cold pan gives it time to muck up the flour.
- 1 chicken breast (2 halves), boneless and skinless
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 rib celery, finely diced
- 1 small carrot, finely diced
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5-ounce can)
- 1 tomato can water
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 2 bay leaves
- 2-inch strip lemon peel (just yellow part)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoon cold water
- Serve this with plain rice or pasta. The chicken and sauce take about 20 to 25 minutes, so time the starch accordingly. (For 2 you'll want to cook 1 cup of rice or 8 ounces of dried pasta.)
- Dice the vegetables and set them aside on a piece of wax paper.
- Dry the chicken well with paper towels while your skillet get hot over a medium high burner (it is important that your skillet is hot before you begin).
- Press both sides of the chicken in flour and shake off excess. Immediately lay them in the pan. Turn them frequently until both sides are browned. Then set them aside. (They will still be raw inside.)
- Dump the onions, celery, and carrots in the pan. After a few minutes a kind of stickiness will coat the bottom of the pan. Adjust the burner so it doesn't burn. When the onions soften, add the garlic and thyme. Stir and add the wine. Let half of it boil away while scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon.
- Add the tomatoes, water, bouillon cube, bay leaves, lemon peel, and pepper. Let this simmer about 5 minutes to soften the carrots and reduce the sauce. Then lay the chicken in the sauce, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Take the chicken out and set on a platter. (Pry into one. If it's not done, cook a bit longer.)
- Mix the cornstarch and water in a small dish. Bring the sauce to a boil and add the cornstarch/water. Stir. The sauce will thicken almost immediately. Let it boil a couple minutes to cook out the raw taste of cornstarch and reduce the sauce further. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.
Both chef and musician, John Ryan wrote the Just Good Food blog from 1996 through 2001.
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