Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lemon Chicken with Olives

As a writer, I admire good writing when I see it. That's one of the reasons I love Real Simple magazine. Another reason is because, well, the information is helpful, practical and timely. And, the recipes really embody the goal of the magazine: they're simple, real (as opposed to processed) and full of flavor and value. The following recipe is one of RS's reader favorites. I gave it a whirl. Though I have recipes higher up on my list of favorites, my husband raved about this one, especially the moistness of the chicken. I loved that I could substitute many of the ingredients and still have a successful dish. If you start some rice pilaf before you do this, both dishes will be ready to serve at the same time.

Lemon Chicken with Olives
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets, thawed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 cup pitted green olives
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine

1. Mix the flour, cumin, zest, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper on a flat plate. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and dredge in the flour mixture.
2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in two batches until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
3. Wipe out the skillet and return to medium heat. Heat the remaining oil. Add the shallots and cook until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the olives, parsley, lemon juice, and wine and bring to a boil. Return the chicken to the pan, nestling it in the olives and shallots. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
4. Divide among individual plates, spooning the olives, shallots, and any sauce over the top.

Lessons Learned: I didn't feel like messing with a lemon, so I just used a bottle of lemon juice and omitted the zest. No harm, no foul, no zest, no problem. Instead of working with whole cutlets, I cut the chicken breasts into smaller pieces for faster cooking. They came out incredibly moist and flavorful. No grainy dryness anywhere. Also, I did not wipe out the skillet before adding the second round of oil and onions (I didn't have shallots, so I substituted onions). Since the recipe calls for so little oil, there wasn't much to wipe out anyhow. And, I used crushed dried parsley instead of fresh. I also used a mixture of green and kalamata olives (rinsing off the brine before they went in the pan). They absorbed the flavors really well. Since my husband does not like olives, it just meant more for me. The whole thing went really well with the pilaf and I foresee doing this again in the near future. I might add sliced mushrooms next time and increasing the sauce ingredients to drizzle over some fettucine.

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