Spring Break Vibes and More Chicken

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Spring break is here and I’m not going to lie; it’s been a bit of a rocky start. We started the weekend with a funeral and a last-minute cancellation of the spring-skiing trip we were planning to take. The kids are wound up and wild with their day-long freedom which means endless wrestling, bathroom humor and constant eating ALL. DAY. LONG. The Zags lost last night which was so sad but as a Spokane native, wow, it was amazing to see them go all the way to the national championship.

We worked in the yard a lot over the weekend and it’s fun to see the grass greening up and the trees juuust about to bud out. A long coffee date this morning with a friend and her girls was just the pick-me-up I needed. Below is the newest Kitchen Captivated column, out last Friday. If you’re local, I also wrote a feature on Rod’s House, an organization serving homeless teens.

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I had dinner with a girlfriend a few weeks ago and we spent half the evening lamenting our respective gardens swapping ideas on the benefits and challenges of raised beds, composting and why the heck we can’t seem to get carrots to grow. Seriously, why are carrots so hard? I can grow a potato and an onion in the ground but not once have I had success with carrots.

Our husbands smiled and shook their heads at us as we came up with grander and grander plans as the night wore on.

Both of us, clearly, are novices but it’s something we both enjoy and get excited about. In our lovely Valley with its abundant sunshine and rich soil (unless you live where I live and the clay is thicker than mud), it seems almost impossible not to at least attempt growing something.

The physicalness of getting my hands dirty, laboring over tender seeds and the satisfaction that comes when tender shoots poke out of the ground is deeply satisfying. Gently tending those little shoots in bated anticipation of what will develop, every day wandering out to the garden looking to see if the vine is growing? Is that blossom actually going to become a cucumber? It’s all very thrilling really. And frustrating when the dogs eat the broccoli and trample the baby sunflowers and weeds take over the pepper patch so all that’s left is 500 jalapenos and two plants loaded down in green tomatoes. Not that any of that has ever happened to me of course.

What does seem to work well in almost any situation is herbs. Pick up an Italian parsley, a basil and a rosemary plant from your local nursery or hardware store and put them in a pot on your patio or in the ground. Make sure they have lots of sun. Water them a little bit every day. Watch them grow and grow all spring, summer and into the fall.

Then when you feel particularly proud of your gardening skills, make this lovely chicken dish for your family using a local Washington wine and the fresh herbs from your garden and suddenly you will find yourself a little more in love with our town and Valley and your family will appreciate this (easy) and delicious meal. You can enjoy the rest of the open bottle of wine in the warm spring air and contemplate adding a few more plants to your garden.

This recipe is only slightly adapted from Ina Garten’s Chicken Piccata recipe. I streamlined it just a bit and slightly reduced the amount of overall butter. Crispy breaded chicken drizzled in a decadent lemon wine sauce comes together in less than 30 minutes. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, pair this dish with this risotto  for the perfect spring meal.

Chicken Piccata

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 extra large eggs, whisked with a tablespoon of water
  • 1 12 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 13 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 12 cup dry white wine
  • fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Slice the chicken breasts in half so that you have two thin pieces of meat. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

On a shallow plate, mix a pinch of salt and pepper into the flour. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon water. Place the breadcrumbs on a third plate. Dip each breast in the flour, shake off the excess, dip in egg mixture and finally coat in the bread crumb mixture.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add chicken breasts, two at a time, to the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Place them on the lined sheet pan while you cook the rest of the chicken. Heat more olive oil in sauté pan if needed and cook the rest of the chicken. Place them on the same lined pan and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium-heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter, then stir in lemon juice, white wine, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Simmer sauce until reduced by half. Remove pan from heat and stir in the rest of the butter. Serve one chicken breast on each plate and spin the sauce over the meat. Finish with fresh parsley.

 

 

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