Dinner Party Bliss
3.13.10 § 10 Comments
I LOVE dinner parties. Thankfully, my good friend Julia was visiting New York this week and that gave me a great excuse to have a little party chez moi. Julia came with her new boyfriend in tow, I forced my friend Alex to leave work early so she could be here, and although she missed out on a few hours of fun before eating, my roommate Marie showed up unexpectedly just in time for the food. You see, with these particular girls (who could most accurately be described as my sorority “family” if I hadn’t disaffiliated from the sorority during my junior year) the dinner party is an all-night event, one which used to happen weekly when we were all still at school. The cooking never commences before 7:30 or 8 pm, and with all the talking and giggling that usually goes on when we’re together, we’re lucky if the food is on the table before 9:30. This time was no exception. (I always feel slightly sorry for the men that get brought along to these functions – they’re never quite prepared for how things are going to go once the festivities commence.)
Regardless, it was a great night and of course, the food was awesome. I decided to make one of my all-time favorite recipes, Panko-Crusted Chicken with Mustard-Maple Pan Sauce. This recipe is incredible. I don’t usually fawn over chicken dishes, but this one is special. Since I came across it in my October issue of Bon Appetit, I’ve made it upwards of 15 times. It’s just that good. Trust me.
If you don’t believe me, let me share a short story. Sadly, my grandmother has been much less herself these past few years. It has been really difficult for everyone in my family to watch her slowly become less and less the woman we all know and love. One night last November, I was back home in New Mexico, and my mom and I brought my grandma to our house for dinner. I made this chicken. I must admit that since I’ve started cooking, I’ve made many tasty dishes to share with her, and although I’m sure if she was fully herself she would show pride that I’ve inherited some of her culinary prowess, I’ve really never received so much as an “mmmm, this is really good” from her. This night was different though. As my grandma poured the last dregs of sauce from the gravy boat over her tiny final bite of mashed potatoes, she looked disdainfully at her plate, and with the loving sarcasm that I have missed so much, she said, “I’m only eating this to make you feel better, you know.” And I watched as she used her fork to get every last bit of sauce off her plate. It was brilliant. For just a few bites, she was herself again. It was an amazing feeling to have her back for a minute or two, and although I hate to admit it, it felt incredible that my cooking got a nod of approval.
Ok, enough of my rambling. Trust me, try the chicken. You might want to double the sauce recipe…for spooning over the mashed potatoes that you should probably serve as a side. Again, just trust me. The rest of this week’s dinner party menu consisted of some really yummy kale, sautéed broccoli, and balsamic roasted tomatoes (these last two were made at Julia’s request and were always staples at our weekly “family dinners”). Those recipes will come soon and I suggest you try them all…but that’s just me.
Panko-Crusted Chicken with Mustard-Maple Pan Sauce
from Bon Appetit, October 2009
2 8-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut crosswise in half
1 large egg
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tsp plus 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp coarse-grained mustard
1 tbsp chilled unsalted butter
Using meat mallet or rolling pin, pound chicken in resealable plastic bag to ½-inch thickness. Whisk egg, parsley, and 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard in a large bowl. Place chicken in egg mixture and turn to coat. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper then dip each piece in panko, turning to coat.
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, whisk broth, syrup, coarse-grained mustard, and remaining 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard in a small bowl.
Transfer the chicken to plates and add the broth mixture to the skillet. Boil until reduced to 3/4 cup, stirring occasionally about 4 minutes (although it usually takes longer than this…just watch until it reduces). Add the butter and whisk until melted. Spoon the sauce all over the chicken and put the rest of the sauce in a bowl on the table so everyone can have more. Believe me, they’ll want more.