"I don't know what to make!" I whined, eyeing the contents of my fridge in consternation.
I cocked my head to press my cell phone into my shoulder and continued my rant as I rifled through the items stocked in my produce and dairy drawers. "I have lemon to use up, spinach, eggs, a huge hunk of mozzarella, fingerling potatoes, a little red wine, and I have to do something new and exciting with it!" I slammed the fridge door shut.
This sort of pressure was not what I had in mind when I made the "101 goal" to try at least one new recipe a week.
"There must be something you can do." My mom said gently. She didn't sound very convinced, and it didn't help that I wasn't feeling particularly hungry after overindulging in quiche, steak and half a Susie Cakes whoopie pie the previous day (among other things).
I glared at the shelves filled with my roommate's cookbooks. I didn't have the energy to go through all of them. Or any of them. And then I spotted it.
The February/March issue of the new Food Network Magazine.
I'd loved reading the first two issues, but for some inexplicable reason (ie. laziness) had yet to try a recipe from the fab mag. I began eagerly flipping through the pages -- pausing to admire a Croque Monsieur Mac & Cheese and lust over the Samoa Tartlets.
"Focus, Diana, focus!" I commanded myself as I tried my best to ignore the impractical recipes that did not contain anything currently stocked in my fridge or cabinets. I thought it a futile effort until my eyes pounced on the quick weeknight meals section. While it was technically a Sunday, the Oscars were on and that clearly qualified it as a pseudo-weeknight!
But it didn't much matter, because the recipe I subsequently found for a peppercorn chicken with lemon spinach was all sorts of perfect for my Sunday supper. I knew it would go well with my roasted fingerling potatoes, and I loved that it called for such simple ingredients that wouldn't weigh down my stomach like all the decadent food I consumed on Saturday.
The recipe came together really quickly (though I did miss 30 minutes of the boring awards/tributes at the Oscars), and more importantly, it tasted like I'd been slaving away like Cinderella before she became all chic, fabulous and undomestic. While I was initially skeptical that the chicken would go with the lemon and garlic spinach, the flavors came together like a non-Hollywood marriage. I was more than happy to heat up the leftovers the next night. And even happier that the pressure was off for the rest of the week. It could be spam from a can for all I cared.
Peppercorn Chicken with Lemon Spinach
Adapted from the recipe in the February/March Issue of the Food Network Magazine
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (approximately 5 ounces each)
1 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground mixed peppercorns
3/4 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 cup red wine
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper over shallots and roast in oven until tender (approximately 15-20 minutes).
Brush 1 teaspoon of mustard on each chicken breast. Sprinkle with the peppercorns, rosemary and salt to taste, patting gently so the seasonings stick.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add 2 teaspoons olive oil. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, turning once. Remove from pan. Add the red wine and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and shallots to the pan, reduce the heat and cover. Let simmer for approximately 10 minutes -- flipping the chicken half-way through.
When chicken is cooked through, remove the lid from the pan and add the remaining tablespoon of mustard. Cook together until sauce has thickened (a couple minutes).
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a different skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic; cook about 30 seconds. Add the spinach, season with salt and cook until wilted; add the lemon zest.
Plate the chicken and drizzle with the shallot sauce. Serve with the spinach and roasted potatoes because carbs make the world a better place.