Friday, March 6, 2009

From Start To Dreamy Finish: Toasted Almond Chicken

So, I've been feeling quite at home in my kitchen lately.

I was telling a good friend the other day that cooking and baking are my ways of feeling like I'm in control of something when I feel like I'm on that super scary, spinney ride that the bottom falls out of at the state fair.

That has been motherhood for me lately. I think it has something to do with the fact that Davy Crockett and George E. Russell have taken up residence in our house and in the bodies of my two little boys, and they're engaged in daily gunfights and searching for Indians. From mornin' til evenin'.

SO, everyday is a battlefield around here. Literally. And, proverbially.

Anyway.

So, I've been cooking. And, baking. A lot.

Which brings me to today's recipe. I thought I'd try somethin' new here at Short Stop. My sister-in-law, Rachel, sent me a link to startcooking.com, where Kathy provides step-by-step instructions (and sometimes videos) on how to make her recipes. And, Rach, being the ever-encouraging sister that she is said to me, "You could totally do this!"

So, I started thinking. Cooking tutorials for my recipes? With pictures? And, a final product that turns out not burnt to a crisp while I try to find the right lighting and aperture settings? All while trying to reign in Davy and George E.?

Well, give me a kitchen challenge and I'm game.

When Rach first sent me that link, I immediately thought of Ree, The Pioneer Woman, who has the best cooking tutorials I've ever seen. If you love to cook (whether you do it often or not), you should be reading The Pioneer Woman. Just click over there. You'll immediately fall in love with her website.

She also has the most incredible ranch you've ever seen.

Ranch. As in farm. Not dressing. Though, she probably makes the best ranch dressing in the West, too.

So, today, I'm givin' 'er a go and posting my first picture tutorial of sorts to go along with one of my favorite weeknight recipes - Toasted Almond Chicken. I make this one all the time. It's so good and so easy and so wickedly flavorful. And, did I say easy? Easy.

It's easy, easy, easy.



This recipe has very few (but oh-so-tasty) ingredients, and is ready to eat in the time it takes you to make the pot of rice to go with it.

So, here we go. Let's give 'er a whirl. (Full recipe at the end)

First, start simmering a pot of rice, substituting chicken broth for water to add more flavor. By the time a pot of rice is ready, so is the rest of the meal.

Using a rolling pin or meat mallet, pound out three chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap to 1/4 inch thickness and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (I am not quite ready to post pics of raw chicken on ye olde blog. Maybe at some point...)

Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter in a saute pan and cook chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side until chicken is golden.



Remove chicken and set aside. Repeat with remaining three chicken breasts.



See all those golden, beautiful bits of goodness. That's what you want the pan to look like!



Then, you'll need these three ingredients. Plus some Dijon mustard. Which I forgot to include in this little photo op. It's my first time. I'll work on the details.



This tiny little guy in the middle? He's the star! He makes the sauce sing. Really.



Add all of 'em into the pan.



Then stir with a whisk, scraping up all those bits o' goodness from the bottom of the pan.



Next, slide the chicken back into the pan.



And ladle the sauce over the chicken.



See these? Mmm...toasted almonds. (Toasted in oven or toaster oven at 350 degrees until golden.)



Sprinkle them over the chicken.



Ladle, ladle, ladle. And, allow to cook for 8 minutes.



While the chicken is cooking in the sauce, cut up some of this. Even if it has seen better days. Poor pitiful broccoli - turnin' brown from neglect. Wish my roots would react to neglect that way. *sigh*



Steam 'til tender.



When ready to serve, spoon a generous amount of rice onto a dinner plate alongside some broccoli.



Ladle that glorious sauce onto the rice. Mmmmm...



Using tongs or a spatula, place a piece of chicken on top of the rice.



See these little goodies that were left over - just hangin' on the paper towel?



Sprinkle them on top. Or as Emeril would say, "BAM!"



And, there you have it. From start to finish: Toasted Almond Chicken, served over rice with a side o' yo daily greens.



Not a bad meal in 20 minutes, huh? It is warm and satisfying and delightful. And, the sauce - it's dreamy.

Here is the full recipe:

Toasted Almond Chicken
recipe adapted from Southern Living Our Best Easy Weeknight Favorites...

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/2 cups heavy cream or half and half
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/3 cup sliced almonds

Place chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap, and flatten to 1/4 inch thickness, using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of chicken, and cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove chicken from skillet. Repeat procedure with remaining butter and chicken.

Reduce heat to medium. Add cream or half & half and next 3 ingredients to skillet, using wire whisk to remove bits from bottom. Stir until smooth. Add chicken; sprinkle with almonds, and cook 8 minutes or until sauce thickens.

So, tell me. The tutorial. Helpful? Interesting? Want more like it? Or, just post the recipe, thankyouverymuch.

I'd love your feedback.

Happy Cooking!

15 comments:

  1. Thanks for the recipe(s). I filch yours and adapt (occassionally) for my family's personal taste (i.e., we're all spic-y-ness WIMPS!).

    As the chef and house-husband I do a lot of cooking. I occassionally post a recipe or two my own self. I loved seeing your cupcakes/peanut butter frosting. I recently whipped up a quick batch of brownies and to make them more decadent topped them off with a similar frosting. YUMMY! My wife was smiling at me all night.

    Anyway, again, thank you. I shall continue to blog stock you in order to get more fabulous cheffy ideas.

    ps-If you like potato soup, check out my blog in the next couple days. I finally fiddled with recipes enough to make one I love and that left the kids literally begging me for more!

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  2. Yum! I love this idea. I am a fan of Pioneer Woman and you were just as good!

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  3. I LOOOOVE this recipe! Every time I make it I think of you. And I am totally about the tutorial idea. I can never get my stuff to look like yours, so I'm all for any extra tips you are willing to give. You're amazing, my friend!!!

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  4. LOVED the tutorial! NICE JOB! So long as you put a normal recipe in there somewhere (for me to copy, paste, and print out, of course) I'm all for the tutorial thing.

    Totally fun!

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  5. Great job with the tut! (bah haha)

    Ahem, seriously, very fun!

    Even though we've got a nutty crew, we aren't big fans of nuts in/on our food. But maybe I'll have to forego the nuts and just make that singin' sauce!!

    Well done SS, well done!!!

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  6. Pioneer Woman is fantastic and so funny!

    I love your first tutorial. I think I can get almost all the ingredients (minus almonds)!

    I think you do a great job with your food photos. Those aren't particularly easy shots to make look pretty...but you did fantastic!

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  7. I have made something similar to this before using the almonds as a coating on the chicken. My family loved it! This recipe with the sauce sounds so much better...can't wait to try it out! It's on the menu for next week! I liked the tutorial. Pictures are fun. As long as the recipe is there, it's all good.

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  8. This looks fantastic! What a wonderful cooking tutorial. :)

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  9. I'm a new reader. I enjoyed your Xmas cookies and am loving all the recipes you've shared since. So my vote would be to continue!

    Kristin in Iowa

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  10. That looks absolutely delicious! I will have to give it a shot one evening.

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  11. Sar, it was great!! You did wonderfully, as expected and as a "newbie" cook (yes, still) it helps to have pics of the process, at least I think so :)

    Loved it! Didn't realize PW did tutorials, as well...I'll have to check her's out.

    Sounds like you all had a wonderful time w/ mom & pop...sorry I haven't commented in a while...work's been BUSY!! xoxo

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  12. Yeah! I loved your tutorial. You did a great job. Your pictures always look fantastic.

    Keep going with the tutorials :o)

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  13. i like the tutorials. i'm not very good in the the kitchen, so when i venture to make something, the more help i can get, the better. plus, the more pictures you post, the more i want to try to the recipe. and you're chicken sure looks yummy.

    i read pioneer woman just about everyday. she is great read.

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  14. Loved your commentary that went with the picture tutorial. This looks yummy, and I LOVED this post, but I think the tutorial looks like a lot of extra work. If it doesn't feel like drudgery to you, I'm all for it. Might eliminate some of the questions you get.

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  15. I had a similar dish last week with fish instead of chicken and wanted it with chicken. Thanks for the recipe. Delish!!

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