Chicken Piccata with Thyme and Mushrooms

Chicken Piccata and Buttered Noodles
This was the first full meal I made on our new gas stove that Matt installed for us last weekend!  He worked so hard rerouting gas lines (scary) and changing out new electrical outlets (scarier) and sawing a bigger hole in our counter top (can’t turn back, now!) and it all ended up totally awesome!  We have wanted a gas stove for years – they just heat so much quicker, they come down from high heat quicker – everything is more precise.  And plus – FIRE!  It’s pretty appealing.  I am tempted to roast marshmallows on this thing.  But I won’t.  I am very thankful for this machine and I swear I’ll deep clean it more than I did our old electric one…
Buttered Noodles
For the first meal, I did a simple chicken piccata with mushrooms and thyme and some soft, buttered noodles.  It was very comforting and yet refreshing at the same time.  I love the bite of the lemon juice and the capers in this dish and so for a twist, I added my favorite herb, thyme, instead of the traditional parsley and I also added some sauteed baby portobello mushrooms.  It all came together great and we thoroughly enjoyed our first meal from the shiny new stove!

chicken piccata

Chicken Piccata with Thyme and Mushrooms
serves 4

3 chicken breasts, butterflied and split in half
1/2 cup flour for dredging
salt and pepper to season the chicken
6 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
1/4 cup capers, drained
1 cup mushrooms, sliced thin
8 oz. long pasta, such as linguine or spaghetti

Heat your oven to 200F.  This is to hold your chicken as you cook it and until the noodles are ready so that everything stays hot until you’re ready to serve.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Salt it.  Salt it some more.  As it’s heating…

Butterfly the chicken breasts by sliding a very sharp knife length-wise into the thickest part of the chicken breast (kinda like you’d cut an english muffin in half) and lay the chicken breast open and cut down the middle, forming two, thinner cutlets.  Do this with the remaining chicken breasts and dry them on both sides and season both sides with a sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat in a large, stainless skillet.  When the butter starts bubbling and popping, coat each chicken breast in flour, shake off the excess and lay floured cutlets on a paper towel until ready to fry.  I worked in two batches – three pieces at a time.  Fry for about 3-5 minutes per side, until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer says at least 160. (It’ll cook some more as it sits to warm in the oven.)  Place fried chicken on a plate and place in the oven to keep warm as you fry up the rest.  For the second batch, add two more tablespoons of butter to the pan before frying the rest.

Remove the chicken and place on the platter in the oven.  Add the lemon juice, chicken stock and capers and thyme to the pan and scrape up the brown bits and season with salt and pepper.  Add the mushrooms and let the sauce reduce for a couple minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in the remaining two tablespoons of butter and spoon sauce/mushrooms over the chicken and serve with buttered noodles.

To finish the noodles once they are done boiling, add the drained noodles to a bowl, add a splash of pasta water, a tablespoon of butter and fresh cracked pepper and stir to combine.  Garnish with fresh chopped herbs if you like!

Chicken Piccata with Thyme and Mushroom

Citrus Cured Salmon

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It’s Monday – time to scale back.  Drink more water, take a walk after dinner.  Eat lighter, eat simpler.  Undo what might have been done over the weekend of eating out with friends, drinks with co-workers or quick meals eaten on the run out of paper bags.  I am currently in a very scaled-back mindset.  This blog obviously has the most popularity when I post sugar and flour concoctions (don’t worry, there’s plenty in the queue) but for this week, I’m going to write about simple, clean, mindfully healthy recipes that are also incredibly fulfilling and delicious.

Over the weekend I dipped into Michael Ruhlman’s cookbook, “Ruhlman’s Twenty” and tackled the citrus cured salmon.  This is not the type of recipe that calls my name. I love cured salmon in the form of lox, but this type of do-it-from-scratch recipe is a direct influence of my husband.  He has made me see the joy in cooking for cooking’s sake.  Not just eating the food, but enjoying the process.  I can honestly say I thought he was crazy when I first heard him say, “I don’t even need to eat what I made, as long as I taste it and see that it came out well, I can move on.”  I used to think this was ridiculous because I used to be a quantity over quality type eater.  I used to think more was more.  More mediocre food is better than less high-quality food.  This is a mindset of an over-eater.  As Matt taught me the joy of the process of cooking, I began to see what he meant.  Just tasting that something you spent hours making came out well is beginning to be enough of a pay-off for me. And when you don’t eat as much, you have more to share.  Which puts you in the middle of what food should be: communal.

I know what you’re thinking: this stuff is pretty easy to buy in the store.  However, I never want to buy it because how old is that fish, anyway?  And where did it come from?  All these questions  are answered simply if you just do it yourself.  So, we bought a pound of salmon from the fresh fish counter, I grated lots and lots of zest and dumped kosher salt on it.  24 hours later – perfectly cured salmon with a HUGE citrus flavor.  Amazing with cream cheese and capers and diced shallots on top of Matt’s homemade, toasted bread.  This is eating simply and without regret!

Happy Zesty Monday.

Citrus Cured Salmon

Citrus Cured Salmon*

1.5 lb salmon filet
1 tsp orange zest
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lime zest
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar

In a small bowl, combine the salt and sugar and stir to distribute the sugar throughout the salt.  In another bowl, combine the citrus zests.  (Buy a Microplane.)

Lay a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to extend beyond the length of the salmon.  Spread a third of the salt mixture in the center of the foil to serve as a bed for the salmon.  Place the salmon skin-side down on the salt.  Distribute the zest evenly across the salmon.  Pour the remaining salt mixture over the salmon.  It should be covered.  Fold the foil up to contain the salt.  Place another sheet of foil over the salmon and crimp the sheets together firmly.  The idea is to have a tight package in which the salt mixture is in contact with all surfaces of the salmon.

Set the foil package on a baking sheet.  Set another baking sheet or dish on top of the salmon and weight it down with a brick or a few cans from your pantry.  This will help press the water out of the salmon as it cures.  Refrigerate the salmon for 24 hours.

Unwrap the salmon and remove it from the cure, discarding the foil and the cure.  Rinse the salmon and pat dry with paper towels.  To remove the skin, place the salmon skin-side down on a cutting board.  Holding a sharp, thin, flexible knife at about a 30-degree angle, cut between the flesh and the skin.  When you can get a grip on the skin, pull it back and forth against the knife to separate it from the flesh.  Set the salmon on a rack or on paper towels on a tray and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours, to allow the salt concentration to equalize and to dry the salmon out further.  Wrap the salmon in parchment and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Serve sliced extremely thin on crackers, bagels, or with scrambled eggs for a hearty breakfast – the options are up to your tastes!

*adapted from Rhulman’s book in that we could only find 1.5lb filets of salmon and his recipe called for 2-3lbs.

lox