Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Salvage operations

Rather than bore you with the next segment of the apparently Never-Ending Fridge Drama, I refer you, again, to this post, as yesterday’s visit from Fridge Guy was basically a verbatim repeat performance (involving a different part, to be fair). I did have two things in my favor this time around, though: first, it’s a lot colder outside than it was a month ago, so mostly everything kept in decent condition in insulated bags on the balcony overnight; and, second, a friend gave me a useful tip on speeding up the defrosting process (shut a bowlful of boiling water into the freezer compartment) that allowed me to get everything back inside the fridge in 18 hours instead of 24. Then, it was just a matter of figuring out what was still edible, but maybe wouldn’t be for much longer, that could be made into an appealing dinner with a minimum of fuss. Because when just thinking about the fridge produces an anxiety reaction, it’s probably better for both of us if I just leave it alone as much as possible for a while, and let it get good and cold again. For a while.

Salvage operation chicken
I think this would also work well with pork chops or a thick piece of fish. Pounding the chicken ensures that it cooks faster and more evenly. Quantities are approximate, and should be easy to increase for feeding more people.

1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast that has thawed and can’t be refrozen
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup dry white wine (or replace with stock or other liquid of your choice)
2 Tbsp pesto*
Splash lemon or lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced

1. Put the chicken breast between sheets of clingfilm (plastic wrap) and pound to a uniform thickness of about one half-inch (1.5cm). Season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large frying pan.
2. When pan is hot, place chicken in pan and cover. Cook on one side for about five minutes, then turn, cover and cook on other side for 3-4 minutes.
3. Check to see that chicken is done. Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm. Turn heat under pan up to medium high.
4. Pour wine into pan. When it starts to bubble, use a spatula or similar to scrape up any good stuff that has stuck to the bottom of the pan. Allow the liquid to reduce, and add a splash or two of water if you feel it’s reducing too much.
5. Add pesto, lemon/lime juice, and garlic and stir to create a consistent sauce.
6. Check the chicken and pour any juices that have run off into the sauce; stir to combine.
7. Taste and adjust seasonings. Pour over plated chicken and serve immediately.

I served this with rice and broccoli. Dinner was on the table in 30 minutes, and mother and daughter both gave it thumbs up.

* See the picture for my method for freezing pesto so that you can use a little bit at a time; when they're frozen, I empty the cubes into a bag and just take out as many as I need. I was preparing this for the freezer when I got the idea to use some for dinner—hence the empty one.


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