The dinner on Super Bowl Sunday was challenging for me on a lot of different levels. I had a class that day. Usually when I have a class I try to have my dinner prepped and ready, but for a variety of reasons I hadn't actually done so. I knew more or less what I wanted to do. I'd impulse-bought some artichoke hearts in a jar to put into salads. They came in packs of two huge jars. I hadn't really enjoyed them in salads as much as I wanted or as much as two jars warranted, so I needed to use up a jar. Now there was plenty of time between getting home from the class and starting the dinner, but I did not want to cook. I wanted to knit. (Overindulging at an SCA event the day before might have had something to do with this preference.) Then suddenly, around five fifteen or so, my husband asked me what time the Super Bowl started.
"I don't know," I told him. "Eight, I guess. That's when it usually starts isn't it?"
Wrong. Six. I had forty-five minutes to get dinner on the table. This is what I came up with.
Actually I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I wanted a "delicate" spice but a savory one, and celery seed worked perfectly for my purposes. The flavor didn't come out all that strongly until the very end, and I'm sure some chemist somewhere will patiently explain how that works but I don't actually care. I added the mushrooms on a whim because I'm like that. If you're counting costs (and who isn't) go ahead and leave them out.
Chicken with Artichokes and Mushrooms (serves 4; approx. $7.99/serving)
1 pound (approx.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 tablespoon celery seed
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons butter
1 large jar artichoke hearts, drained
1 large jar marinated mushrooms with garlic, drained
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 1/4 cups white wine
1 tub (about 8 ounces) fresh mozzarella balls (optional; this can be expensive so you can leave it out if you want)
- Large saute pan
- Slotted spoon
- Combine the flour and the celery salt.
- Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture. Reserve the flour mixture. You're going to use it later for the roux.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in the saute pan.
- Brown the chicken over medium-high heat. You want to see a few browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Don't be afraid of them. (Don't get complacent and let things burn either; I probably don't have to tell you that but still.)
- Evacuate the chicken to the plate and lower the heat.
- Add the remaining oil and the butter. Melt the butter in the oil.
- When the butter is melted, dump the remaining flour dredge into the pan and stir vigorously. You are now making a roux.
- Because you're using whole wheat flour you're going to be less able to tell that the roux has reached the appropriate stage than you would if you were using white flour. That's how I've experienced it anyway, but of course I'm not overly experienced in the ways of roux. Anyway, you're going to need to pay very close attention to the smell given off by your preparation. When it begins to smell nutty you're ready to move on. Don't hesitate; this stuff will move on to the "napalm" stage in a heartbeat.
- Add the broth and stand back. There may be some steam. Stir to deglaze the pan and mix in that roux.
- Bring to a simmer. Add the chicken and the wine.
- Return to a simmer. Add the jarred vegetables.
- Return to a healthy simmer. Cook until the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove from heat. Transfer to your serving vessel and add the mozzarella, if using.