Three of my favorite dessert recipes (German chocolate cake, turtle brownies, and Texas sheet cake) came from my mom's lovely cousin, who claims to be a terrible cook who is incapable of turning on her stove. The super yum-o sloppy joe's I made a couple weeks ago came courtesy of Rachael Ray, a woman who's cooking Anthony Bourdain recently called "pretty damned awful." According to the LA Times, Nancy Silverton's son dreamed up the combination of speck, fresh pineapple, mozzarella and jalapeno on Pizzeria Mozza's new hot pie, the pizza allo Benno. And, this past Monday, I found my new go-to week night recipe for chicken in... Glamour magazine?
While I somewhat agree with the theme of the film Ratatouille that "anyone can cook," up until recently, I didn't think that extended to mean that good recipes can come from anywhere or anyone. I certainly never imagined that I'd enjoy getting down and dirty with a 30-minute meal, and it would seem completely improbably that instead of finding a great new recipe in the latest issue of Bon Appetit, I found one in a magazine famous for their fashion "Do's" and "Don'ts."
Has the world gone topsy-turvy? Is the sky no longer blue? Or are my tastes merely turning (gulp) low-brow?
I'm going to go with the loathsome option "d" that my high school AP U.S. history teacher evilly used over and over and over again on his multiple choice tests -- none of the above.
As much as I like to imagine that cooking is an art that only a fine few can master, ultimately, I do think that most people are capable of concocting at least one delicious dish. It might be a fluke or situation involving divine intervention, but I still maintain that it is possible if the task is approached with the right attitude. How else can one explain how Hosea was able to win this season's "Top Chef" over the favorite, Stefan? It certainly wasn't because Hosea truly was the "Top Chef" on the show. He didn't have to be. He just had to be the "Top Chef" on that one night.
And so it goes with the rest of the world. It doesn't take a culinary genius to fry an egg and lay it over some form of fatty pork and cheese on a slab of toasty bread. It doesn't take a degree from the Culinary Institute of America to whip up a fine batch of Texas sheet brownies. And it doesn't take a fancy schmancy food editor to come up with an easy and delicious recipe for chicken. It only requires a little imagination, a pair of hands and a functioning stove.
This one's a keeper -- especially with the simple, but delectable whole wheat risotto-style orzo I, the untrained, mostly undomestic goddess from the OC, came up with to go with it.
Chicken with Sauteed Mushrooms
Adapted from Glamour Magazine
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup sliced shitake mushrooms
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon half & half (or heavy cream)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Pinch of thyme
Salt, pepper to taste
Flour for dredging
Season chicken breast with salt and pepper and lightly dredge in flour. Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat and saute chicken on both sides until golden brown. Add 1/4 cup of chicken broth, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through.
Remove chicken, and saute mushrooms in residual chicken broth until tender. Add wine, balsamic vinegar, thyme, and pepper to the pan, and let the wine reduce down for a couple minutes. (May add chicken back at this stage to keep warm.) Once it has reduced, turn the temperature down to low and add the half & half or cream. Whisk in with a fork and simmer together for a minute or until sauce has reached desired consistency. Spoon over chicken breast and serve with whole wheat risotto orzo.
Diana's Whole Wheat Risotto-style Orzo
1/4 cup whole wheat orzo
1 large shallot, minced
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
Pepper to taste
Saute minced shallot in olive oil over medium heat in a deep saucepan. Add orzo and saute over medium low heat until slightly toasted. Add chicken broth and pepper to taste and simmer, uncovered until the orzo has absorbed all the liquid and is tender. Stir occasionally, and add additional broth as needed. If using whole wheat orzo, this will take approximately 20-25 minutes (reduce cooking time if using regular orzo).