Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Interior Design meets Vikiing Cooking School

Team Chicken! Jackie, Lanah and I pose for a shot.

Chef Leo helps us plate our beautiful dish.

The winning entree: Chicken Breast with Lemon Sauce!

Last night I had the opportunity to go to an ASID function at the Viking Cooking School. I had been once before for my bachelorette party, and we had such a blast that I was super excited about a chance to go again. I was a bit anxious about going alone, but turns out, I shouldn't have worried at all. Food always brings people together.
We had such a good time cooking the Cafe Italiano menu: Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Crostini, Mixed Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms, Chicken Breasts with Lemon Sauce and Little Chocolate Cakes with Amaretto Cream. There were about 40 designers in attendance, so we split off into 2 groups, and further divided into dish groups. I was on Team Chicken for Group 1. The chefs watching over us gave us some great fried chicken tips, like: pat the flour off the chicken, "like it's a baby," and if you're cooking a large batch, give the breasts in the pan plenty of space and finish all of those before adding more, so that the pan does not cool down in between batches. For the sauce, Chef Leo, who works at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, showed us a neat trick. To thicken a runny sauce, try adding a cold roux to the simmering sauce: a dollop of room temperature butter and flour mixed well together. All of the dishes were fantastic, but I had a personal interest in the chicken. However, much to my dismay, at the end of cooking, I suddenly remembered that I would not be able to actually eat the chicken that I had cooked, since I gave up commercial meat. I wanted to share it with everyone else though, because I am definitely going to re-create this at home with some organic, free-range breasts. Please let me know how yours turn out!

Chicken Breasts with Lemon Sauce

3 Whole Lemons
8 (6-oounce) Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
All-Purpose Flour, For Dredging
4 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Rosemary
1 Tablespoon Finely Minced Garlic
1 Cup Chicken Stock, Simmering
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons Chopped Flat-Leaf Parsely, Plus Additional Sprigs for Garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place ovenproof platter in the oven. Cut off the ends of one lemon and slice into 1/8 inch wheels. Juice the other 2 lemons until you have 1/4 cup of juice. Set aside. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a shallow pan, then, working one piece at a time, dredge both sides of each chicken breast lightly; shake off the excess (this is the pat like a baby part.) Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Place the chicken breasts in the pan, presentation side down, leaving at least 1-inch space around the cutlets. Saute until lightly golden brown, then turn and cook on the other side. (You may need to cook the chicken in 2 batches to avoid overcrowding.) Remove the chicken from the pan and place on the warmed platter. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the preheated oven while you make the sauce. Pour off any excess oil. Return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the rosemary and garlic to the pan and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the stock and lemon juice, stirring to release any browned bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan (deglaze.) Allow the liquids to reduce to about 1 cup. Remove the pan from the heat, then swirl in the butter and parsley; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the sauce over the chicken breasts; garnish with lemon wheels, parsley sprigs and serve immediately.

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