My friend Heather calls it “Chicken Crack”. The hard stuff. When you crave it, nothing else will do. I served it yesterday for Sunday dinner.
After church we cleared the pile of mail off the antique bench table in our family room. We hefted our massive coffee table to the hallway and brought in the 8’ long folding table I bought at a garage sale 15 years ago. We set it in front of the fireplace, so four people could use its raised hearth as seats. The oval coffee table from the drawing room was brought in for the little ones, their tiny chairs fitting barely under its apron. Long red tablecloths, soft cloth napkins, clean white plates and the glass goblets we bought by the dozens for Katie and Elliott’s wedding: all these united the variety of tables in our large family room and dining area. When we built this house this is exactly what we had envisioned: a space large enough for a crowd, but warm enough for intimate conversation.
This morning I laundered and folded the tablecloths and roughly 40 napkins. I traditionally set my tables with tablecloths in honor of my grandmother Lizzie Parrish, whom I never knew. My mother told me that she always had a tablecloth on the table for dinner. Even during the Great Depression. Less than fragrant ranch hands sat at her table, along with a passel of children. It would have been fine to just set some food on the wooden table top and let them go at it. But instead she used her linen. I think of it as a sort of prayer, a call to reverence for the bounty in their lives. Even when they weren’t so bountiful. My grandmother had culture in her, and even out there on that small ranch in the desert of Idaho she used it. The cloth napkins and tablecloths I use make me feel connected to that part of my mother’s mother.
Among the gathering yesterday were the Riggs family, and the Gardner family. Reed Gardner is getting married today. And Dennis Riggs has reunited with his family in heaven this weekend. We cherish all these people. When someone from each of those families wondered aloud if we might be having Chicken Breasts in Lemon Cream, I took it as a sign.
And so it was.
There is nothing like that aroma of browned butter cooking chicken and mushrooms, topped off with the scent of fresh squeezed lemons.
I took this up to my brother George's house the day his wife Cyndy passed away. It's a go-to comfort food kind of meal. My brother John turned to my husband Dave and said "Why don't you weigh 400 pounds?" You’ll have to ignore the calories in this recipe. And don’t go toying with it to try to make it fat free. Cook something else instead. Be true to the faith then go for a jog.
Chicken Breasts in Lemon Cream
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenders, trimmed,
cut thin or pounded thin (1/3 lb per serving)
- 4-6 fresh lemons for juice
- whole cream (roughly 1/2 pint per 2 servings)
- chicken broth (roughly 1/2 pint per 2 servings)
- fresh mushrooms
- olive oil
- flour, salt and pepper
cooked rice (parslied rice pilaf is great with this recipe)
Prepare hot rice to serve under chicken.
Squeeze juice of lemons into a bowl, remove seeds, and add lemon juice to whipping cream. Stir and set aside. (note: lately I’ve been grating some lemon peel into the cream mixture to add more zest.)
Melt a few T butter in heavy saucepan. Sautee’ washed and sliced mushrooms in butter. Remove from pan.
Add a glug or two of olive oil and maybe half a cube butter. (Olive oil has a higher burning point than butter, so you can cook your chicken on higher heat. But you also want the flavor of butter. )
Pound chicken to an even thinness. (I cover my mallet with a plastic bag, then discard the bag when I'm done. Chicken doesn't stick to the bag as much as the metal) Dredge chicken breast fillets in flour, salt and pepper. Cook in oil until nice and brown. Because your chicken is thin it will cook quickly. Do not overcook! Remove from pan and and set aside as you cook them.
When chicken and mushrooms are all cooked add 2 Tbs butter to pan, melt it, then add 2 -4 T flour to pan. Scrape the drippings into the mix. Add equal parts chicken broth and lemon cream mixture to the brownings. Scrape the bottom of pan and heat, stirring constantly. Add cooked chicken and mushrooms to cream mixture and heat.
Serve over hot rice.
PALSIED RICE PILAF
Long grain rice (Jasmine rice makes a nice fluffy pilaf)
1/4 to 1/2 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped (I use Italian parsley but either will work.)
1 small onion finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
chicken broth or water with chicken bouillon
Melt 2 T butter in saucepan. Add chopped onion and sautee till tender. Add 2 c rice and stir. Add 4 c broth and stir. Bring to a boil, lower to simple simmer and cover. Cook for approx. 20 minutes or according to rice directions. When rice is done, stir in minced garlic and chopped parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.