Monday, March 10, 2008

Deluxe, Divine, Chicken Divan

With a name like that, you KNOW it's Rachael Ray.

I was a bad meal planner this week. Tonight's scheduled dinner is way too similar to last night's, but I didn't realize it until the chicken was already mostly defrosted (and I'm not using chicken anymore this week). I mean, it is almost EXACTLY the same, only with chicken instead of beef. This is the one I was planning on.

And this is what I ended up with (with MANY modifications, since I wasn't prepared for this one!):

1/3 cup sliced almonds, a couple of handfuls (I omitted.)
1 quart chicken stock
1 lemon, zested (I used lemon juice because I had no lemons!)
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme (Nope - dried.)
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/2 cups white rice
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds chicken breast cutlets, 8 cutlets
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning, 1/3 palm full
2 tablespoons plus about 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of pan
1 1/3 pounds, a large bunch, asparagus spears, trimmed of tough ends (Frozen...)
6 or 7 large button mushrooms, sliced (Canned.)
1/3 cup half-and-half (Milk.)
1 rounded tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons, a couple sprigs, fresh tarragon, leaves chopped
(Nope - dried.)
2 scallions, chopped (I omitted.)

Toast almonds in a small skillet until golden. Set aside.

Bring 2 3/4 cups chicken stock, the zest of 1 lemon, thyme sprigs and a tablespoon of butter to a boil in a medium pot with a tight fitting lid. Add rice to water, stir. Return the water to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and cove the pot. Cook 18 minutes or until tender, remove from heat. Remove the thyme sprigs, the leaves will have fallen off in the rice.

While the rice cooks, season chicken with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Dredge chicken in about half cup of flour then discard the rest. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, and 1 tablespoon butter to the large skillet. To the hot butter and oil, add the cutlets and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove the meat to a large platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

Bring an inch or 2 of water to a simmer in a shallow pan and season with salt. Add asparagus and cook 4 minutes until just tender but green. Remove and add to chicken platter to keep warm.

Return chicken skillet to the heat and add 2 tablespoons butter. Melt butter, add the mushrooms and saute for a couple of minutes. Whisk in 2 rounded tablespoons flour. Cook the flour 1 minute then whisk in 1/3 cup white wine, a couple of glugs. Cook off wine, 30 seconds, then whisk in 1 1/4 cups of chicken stock (remainder of the quart) then the half-and-half. When sauce bubbles, stir in mustard and tarragon and let sauce simmer and thicken 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir scallions into rice and fluff with fork. Make a bed of rice on each dinner plate. Top with a serving of steamed asparagus then 2 cutlets of chicken. Cover the chicken with the tarragon sauce, allowing the gravy to spill over edges into asparagus and rice. Sprinkle the plates with toasted nuts. Wow! Can you believe you made this?

I think I'm done with this recipe. The first time I made it (maybe a year or two ago), I LOVED it. It was perfect. I've made this a few times since then, and each time it comes out differently - and never as good. Because of that, it's not a "go-to" recipe by any means (for me, anyway), but it was the best I could do on short notice tonight. :)

Tonight, it was... okay. I over-steamed the asparagus (in case you couldn't tell from the picture!) and under-cooked the chicken (had to go back and redo it).

This is a meal that tastes FABULOUS - but aside from the first time I ever made it, I can't seem to get it right. I think I just might give up. Life's too short. ;)

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