You're smart, competent and willing to tackle something new no matter how daunting it seems: Those are introductory words from the publisher of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Meals in 30 Minutes or Less" (Alpha Books, 2012). If you don't dwell on the mixed message too long, you might appreciate the book's recipes, which avoid advanced techniques, hard-to-find ingredients and multi-step processes.
This recipe could easily be worked into a weeknight rotation when time or temperament calls for something simple yet saucy. With a little more effort, the sauce could be enhanced with one or more add-ins: sauteed mushrooms, toasted pine nuts, a little coarse-grain mustard, Spanish smoked paprika. To save time, start with thinly sliced, skinless chicken cutlets.
Serve with brown rice and steamed broccoli.
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (see headnote)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- 3/4 ounce (1 small clamshell pack) chives
- Leaves from 4 stems thyme
- 1 cup no-salt-added chicken broth
- 1/2 cup regular or low-fat sour cream (do not use nonfat)
Spread the flour on a plate.
Trim excess fat from the chicken; remove any tenderloins and reserve for another use. Working with one breast half at a time, place the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness of about 1/2 inch. (Or you could cut the thick breasts in half horizontally.) You'll have 4 to 6 thin pieces.
Season each one with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Lay each breast half in the flour, turning to coat lightly on both sides and shaking off any excess. Transfer 2 of them to the skillet and cook for about 4 minutes or until lightly golden and browned on the edges. Turn over and cook for about 2 minutes or until cooked through. Use tongs to transfer the breast halves to a plate; cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm. Repeat to cook the remaining chicken.
Meanwhile, cut the onion into small dice to yield 1 cup. Mince the garlic. Use kitchen scissors to snip the chives into small pieces. Chop the thyme.
Add the onion and garlic to the skillet, stirring to dislodge any browned bits left from cooking the chicken. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring until softened.
Increase the heat to high; add the broth, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the thyme. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and stir in the sour cream and chives. Remove from the heat. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Divide the chicken among individual plates. Pour the chive sauce over each portion. Serve right away.
Adapted from "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Meals in 30 Minutes or Less," by Tod Dimmick (Alpha Books, 2012).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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