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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

knives down, hands up

Tonight I finally had the chance to catch up on my Top Chef episodes. I had just sat down to ponder how Padma stays so skinny when I became really hungry. I had intended on just having a sandwich for dinner, but Top Chef gave me the itch to cook something new.

I looked through my pantry and refrigerator and collected what ingredients I had on hand. Since we haven't been to the grocery store in a little while, there wasn't much around to cook with. I was, however, not to be deterred. I'm glad I wasn't; I created a new recipe, and it rocks. You should make this. Seriously. It's delicious. What is it, you ask? Well, I don't have a name for it yet (in fact, I'd welcome suggestions). But, in a nutshell, I made some garlicky, lemony rice with artichokes, a cream sauce, and some chicken breasts. And seriously, it is delicious.

So that you can make it, too, here's what to do:

Unnamed Chicken and Rice
(a Kaytie original--serves 4)

Preheat oven to 300 and put a casserole dish in the oven. Now make the rice.

1 cup real white rice (not instant rice)
1/2 cup minced red onions
1/3 cup minced red bell pepper
5 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 can chicken broth
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup pine nuts

Melt butter in a 2-quart sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions and pepper, and saute 3-4 minutes. Add the rice, the garlic, and the artichoke hearts, and saute another 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer & simmer for about 15 minutes.

While rice is simmering, toast your pine nuts. (You can do this by putting them on a tray in the toaster oven, or by putting them in a dry small saute pan over medium to medium-high heat. Toast until light brown and they smell delicious. Pine nuts burn easily, though, so as soon as you can smell them, take them off the heat).
Once your rice is done, stir in the pine nuts. Put into the hot casserole dish, cover, and put back in the oven. Now you can cook the chicken.

3 or 4 chicken breasts
pinch of dried thyme
garlic salt
Melt a tablespoon of butter in a medium hot saute pan. Dry your chicken breasts well. Season with thyme, salt, and pepper. Put breasts in pan. Saute 2 minutes per side.

Now, put your chicken breasts on top of the rice in your casserole dish that's in the oven. Cover, and set the timer for 8 minutes. Now you can cook the sauce.

1/2 cup cream
1/3 cup white vermouth (or dry white wine)
3 garlic cloves, minced
pinch of lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons capers

Melt butter over medium heat and add garlic. Saute around 3 minutes, then add vermouth and cream. Increase heat until sauce comes to a simmer. Simmer until reduced by half. Watch this sauce carefully--it will bubble over on you in a second! Add lemon zest and capers once reduced by half.

After your timer goes off, pull the casserole dish out of the oven. If your breasts are really thick, you might want to check one to be sure they're cooked all the way through; if not, put 'em back in for around 3 minutes. Once they're done, pour the cream sauce all over them and serve.

Seriously, this is delicious. If you're calorie-conscious (as I sometimes am--not tonight, though) you could omit the sauce and just top with lemon zest and capers. You could also use olive oil instead of butter. But, life's short. Indulgence is good every now and then. (Sorry, couldn't resist one more picture. I'm so proud. Sniff.)

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