Pan-fried Chicken Breast

When Jerri’s family moved from their farm into the village of Rosalia, Kansas, they gave some farmer friends a chicken coop. The friends insisted upon paying for the coop—which they did with live chickens.

For the next couple of years, Caroline, who was in charge of the chickens, would stop from time to time at their home in town with a live chicken in a gunny sack. Jerri’s mother knew how to dress chickens, but she really did not like killing, plucking and cleaning those birds.

Jerri remembers her mother saying, when she saw Caroline’s car stop at their house, “I hope that she didn’t bring another chicken!” But Jerri’s mother was always polite and thanked her friend for the bird, and Jerri’s family had another chicken dinner.

If you have an extra chicken in the freezer, or really just a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, here is the way to turn them into a wonderful dinner.

INGREDIENTS:

About a pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/4 cup all-purpose flour.
1/4 cup corn meal
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. tarragon
1/8 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. paprika
1/16 tsp. cayenne
1/16 tsp. black pepper
2 – 3 T milk
3 – 4 T vegetable oil

PROCEDURE:

Cut the breast into serving-size cutlets, about a quarter pound each. I like to flatten the pieces a little with a meat pounder or tenderizer before breading them. If you don’t have one of these, you can use the side of a heavy knife or even a rolling pin.

Make the breading by mixing the flour, corn meal, salt and spices in a shallow plate or a small pan and put the milk in a shallow bowl.

Coat a skillet with the oil and set it over moderately high heat. Flick a drop or two of water into the pan after it has heated. If the water sizzles and bounces around, the oil is at the right temperature.

Moisten each piece of chicken in the milk and press it into the flour mixture. Put the pieces into the skillet and fry them for about five minutes on each side. When they are golden brown on both sides, the meat will be done.

Serve with your choice of starch, a glass of white wine and a salad. Beans and Rice go well with pan-fried chicken breasts, and Riesling is a good choice for the wine.

NOTES: Chicken has overtaken beef in the diets of Americans. On average, we now eat about ninety pounds of chicken each year. Chicken is low in fat and calories and has one of the smallest carbon footprints of any meat. Breading and frying the chicken adds some calories, but they are still healthful, better for the environment than beef or pork, and they taste wonderful.

Kielbasa and Cabbage

As I have written before, Mom’s Boiled Dinner was one of my favorite meals. Paired with fresh homemade bread and some lunchmeat for a sandwich, it was the perfect meal on a cold winter’s night. Kielbasa and cabbage is a good warm-weather dish that gives you that same wonderful combination of meat and vegetables cooked in one pot with only just enough broth to blend the flavors. There is plenty of meat, so you can skip the sandwiches.

Kielbasa is the Polish word for sausage, but there are varieties of sausage called Polish sausage that are not Kielbasa. Today most Kielbasa is found as a smoked cooked sausage, but this recipe uses the fresh variety, which Polish speakers call Kielbasa biala (White Kielbasa). White kielbasa must be cooked. The browned slices of sausage combined with the sweet onions and cabbage give this dish a unique, rich flavor.

1 – 1 1/2 lbs. Fresh Kielbasa
2 T butter, divided
1 1/2 cups sweet onion
1 small cabbage(4 to 5 inches in diameter)
3 or 4 medium carrots
2 or 3 medium potatoes
1 stalk celery
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. beef bouillon
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the sausage into thin slices and put them into a large skillet with a tablespoon of butter over low heat while you prepare the vegetables.

Cut off the stem and root ends and remove the dry outer layer of the onion. Chop it into a quarter-inch dice and set it aside in a small bowl.

Remove any damaged leaves from the cabbage and wash the head. Cut it into medium wedges about two inches thick and set them aside in a mixing bowl. Scrub or scrape the carrots, remove the stem ends and chop the carrot into half-inch slices. Peel and chop the potatoes into half to three-quarter-inch cubes. Clean and chop the celery into half-inch pieces. Put these vegetables together in a mixing bowl.

Raise the heat under the skillet to medium and fry the sausage until it is well browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer it from the skillet to a bowl.

Reduce the heat and put a tablespoon of butter into the skillet. Add the onion and cook it until it is translucent but not browned. Add the vegetables, water and bouillon along with quarter teaspoons of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover the skillet and steam the vegetables for ten minutes. Stir in the sausage, add a little water if necessary and replace the cover.

Continue cooking the meat and vegetables for about twenty minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve in bowls with bread and a good beer

NOTES: You don’t need to peel thin-skinned new potatoes. If you have some of those tasty potatoes in your pantry, just scrub them well and chop them into pieces. It is easier to slice the sausage if it is partially frozen, but uniform slices are not important. Just be sure that the sausage is cut into small bite-sized pieces.