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.

Cindy’s Thai Chicken

This recipe traveled a long way to arrive in New Richmond, Wisconsin. It was brought here from southwest Asia by Cindy Pearson a few years ago, when her sister, Cathy, was serving as pastor of our church. Cindy was visiting her family in Wisconsin between academic terms at Charis Bible College in Hong Kong where she serves as director.

For many years Cindy has worked in China, teaching and caring for orphans before accepting her current position as a teacher and the director at the college. One Sunday she delivered a message during the worship service about her experiences in China. Following the service, she gave a slideshow about her work and life in Hong Kong. As good churchgoers, we ended the morning with a potluck.

Cindy brought a large platter of chicken and broccoli to the potluck. It was delicious, and when I asked for the recipe, she was gracious enough to email it to me. She called it Thai chicken and said that it was a popular dish with her friends in China. Chicken and broccoli are seasoned with a peanut sauce and broiled in the oven. It is actually a version of satay.

Food historians believe that satay was invented on the island of Java in Indonesia. Meat is skewered on palm frond ribs or bamboo skewers, cooked quickly over hot coals and served with peanut sauce. When we visited Surabaya, Indonesia, we saw many street vendors cooking satay. Rather than making this delicacy at home, people buy it from their favorite vendor and take it home to enjoy with rice.

In Cindy’s version, the chicken is dipped in the sauce and arranged on a baking sheet. Broccoli florets are scattered over the chicken and the remaining sauce is dribbled over the food in the pan.

Many years ago I hesitated to try any food cooked with peanuts (except for peanut brittle of course). However, once I was persuaded to do so by a college girlfriend who led me to a Chinese restaurant, I realized that I had been missing some delicious flavors. Be sure to use natural peanut butter for this recipe. Check the label before you buy a jar. The ingredients listed should be only peanuts and salt.

As you can see from the photo, , my first attempt at this dish resulted in what I thought was a bit too much charring, but as it turned out that just made the dish taste like it had been broiled over charcoal. Nothing tasted burned, the chicken was moist and tender, and everything was perfectly seasoned. You could lower the pan a little farther from the broiler if you wish, but we liked the dish just as it turned out.

Serve it with white rice and a little salad, and you will have a dinner low in carbohydrates and calories for guests careful about their diets.

INGREDIENTS:
2 chicken breasts (about 1 lb.)
1 bunch broccoli (about 1 lb.)
¼ cup + 2T creamy natural peanut butter
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
1 T packed brown sugar
1 T sesame oil
1 T lime juice
½ T Sriracha sauce
½ T rice vinegar
1/8 cup warm water

PROCEDURE:

Start by making the sauce in a quart mixing bowl. Use a fork to blend the peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, lime juice, Siracha sauce and vinegar. Add the warm water sparingly, beating the sauce until it is the consistency of rather thick gravy.

Line a shallow baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and start the oven broiler. Pat the chicken breasts dry and cut them into pieces no thicker than one inch. Dip the chicken pieces into the sauce and lay them out on the pan.

If you plan to serve the chicken immediately, this is a good time to start cooking the rice.

Wash and break or cut the broccoli into florets about the same size as the pieces of chicken. Distribute the broccoli between the chicken pieces and dribble any leftover peanut sauce over the meat and broccoli. Put the pan under the broiler for six to eight minutes. Turn the meat and broccoli and broil another six to eight minutes or until the meat is done.

Serve hot with rice.

NOTES: Cindy suggests that Thai chicken is just as good refrigerated and reheated in your microwave to serve later and that you can make four batches as easily as one.

If you don’t have any Sriracha sauce in your pantry, you can substitute any other good hot sauce, though the flavor may change a little.