|Not a bad picture considering I took it with my phone.|
Tonight I made Garlic Rosemary chicken breasts for dinner. I used a method that I don't typically use. Let's face it, with a [nearly] 15 month old boy that can't be left alone for 2 seconds without trying to give the cat an unwelcomed hug or standing on something he shouldn't, the less steps I use in my cooking, the better. Keeping the kid alive tends to be more important in our culture than cooking a perfect supper. But tonight I decided to go the extra mile. And what do you know?! The kid is still alive and dinner was delicious!
A few days ago, Charlie saw the January cover photo of Bon Appetit magazine with this glorious, golden pork chop front and center. And of course, he asked me if I could make it. So I picked up the issue, flipped through to the cover recipe and picked it apart. It was less of a recipe and more of a lesson in basting. I thought, "Sure! I can do this! I did it in culinary school. It's a pretty simple idea, really." But I didn't have any glorious, 2-inch thick pork chops. Chicken was on my weekly menu, though. It was supposed to be chicken kabobs, but food on a stick is better left for the Summer months. Garlic Rosemary chicken it is! I turned Yo Gabba Gabba on for the dude, peeked in on him every few minutes, and started dinner.
This is what I did:
I placed an oven-safe skillet on medium heat and added about a teaspoon of rosemary infused olive oil- enough to coat the bottom of the skillet. [Pan spray or regular olive oil will work just fine, too.] I also turned my oven on to 400 degrees F. I took 3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, patted them dry, and seasoned both sides with kosher salt and black pepper. I placed them in my preheated pan for about 4 minutes; just until it started to brown. Then I flipped each breast once letting the other side cook for another 4 minutes. I sprinkled in some dried rosemary and placed the pan in the oven. I let the chicken cook in the oven for about 15 minutes. Keep in mind that these were very thick breasts (about 1 1/2 inches) and still a little icy in the middle so timing will vary. After the chicken was almost cooked through, I pulled the pan out of the oven [WITH A POTHOLDER OR OVEN MITT] and set it back on the stove at medium heat. This is where it gets good. I then added 2 whole, peeled garlic cloves and 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter to the pan. When the butter melted I tilted the pan slightly forward, took a soup/cereal sized spoon, and ladled the butter over each chicken breast repeatedly for several minutes. Then I turned off the heat and set the pan to the side to let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes. After it had some time to relax (being delicious is hard work after all) I sliced it, spooned a little bit of the goodness from the bottom of the pan over the chicken, and served it with roasted veggies.
The basting method takes a little more time and effort, but the product is so yummy! It works well because you are cooking the meat more evenly this way. The less you flip the meat and move it around a pan, the more evenly it will cook. And by basting it with a hot liquid, you're helping cook both sides at once, while locking in the flavors and moisture that is crucial to cooking meat perfectly. Plus, you're making use of all of those wonderful brown bits in the bottom of the pan. In my opinion, basting will yield the most flavorful chicken, pork, or steak you've ever had. It's how a lot of professional steakhouses cook their steaks, rather than using a grill.
So there it is...the [butter] basting method. You can do this with other meats using other oils, wine, or even just some stock. It's a pretty simple concept, it just takes a little more time. But, like I said, it's well worth the effort.
PS The title of this entry was a toss up between "Mmmm, butter..." and "Let's get basted!". You're welcome.