I didn’t know what to title this blog post; it could have been many things. Like, ‘What did you cook when you were 12 or 13?’, ‘Kids love brownies’, ‘There is never too much cheese in the Mac ‘n Cheese’. The list goes on. But what this post is really about is three young ladies getting together to have fun, expand their culinary knowledge and eat some lunch.
Caroline, Sarah and Harcourt came into my studio on Saturday morning and we began cooking. On the menu was chicken filets in a pan sauce, REAL macaroni and cheese, and luscious chocolate brownies. The girls did nearly all the work with some direction and brief demonstrations provided by me. I steamed some green beans to assuage my guilt of ‘no green’, but for the most part they went uneaten.
A nod goes to Sarah Fritschner, whose classic ‘Spaghetti and Cheese’ recipe I incorporate into many, many cooking classes. It really is simple and delicious. Anything I can do to help people steer clear of boxed and packaged mac ‘n cheese! The girls loved it – I had them dice up the cheese block to practice their knife handling. Sarah took the helm in making the bechamel sauce while Harcourt and Caroline diced cheese. After the sauce was poured over the pasta, we cleaned out the pan with pieces of baguette. Yum.
With the brownies baking away in the oven, we began the star of the show, the chicken dish. I love making pan sauces and chicken is one thing that nearly everyone loves, is versatile and easy to cook. It’s easy to overcook too, and we’ll touch on that issue here. Pan sauces for chicken can range from cream gravy to clean and sharp piccata. Tomato and olive or mushroom and onions. The renditions are endless. Today I settled on a sauce made with onion, vegetable broth, Dijon and a touch cream.
The girls were skeptical when I pulled out the Dijon mustard, but ended up eating the sauce with a spoon. Hey, Mikey, they liked it! Try it for an easy weeknight meal.
Chicken with Dijon Pan Sauce
- Olive oil – about 2 Tbls
- 4 small chicken breast pieces, about 4 oz each
- 1/4 cup flour
- salt, pepper and paprika
- chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 Tbls dijon mustard
- pinch dry tarragon or 2-3 tsp minced fresh tarragon
- 1 Tbls minced fresh Italian parsley
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Begin by heating 2 Tbls of olive oil in a saute pan. Season the flour with salt, pepper and paprika. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, just a light coat will stick to the chicken. Place the chicken in the hot oil and sear on both sides for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Remove to a platter. The chicken will not be done at this point, we will finish it in the sauce.
Reduce the heat to medium and add about 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock and the Dijon, whisking until smooth. Add the dry tarragon and the cream and taste for seasoning. Return the chicken to the pan along with any accumulated juices on the platter. Simmer for 3-4 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Add about half of the parsley and stir and spoon the sauce over the chicken. If the sauce is too thick, you can thin it with additional chicken stock, a bit at a time.
Place the chicken on a platter or individual plates and sprinkle with the remaining parsley and fresh tarragon if using. Serves 4.