How often I cook with boneless-skinless chicken breast can be categorized somewhere between very little and not at all.
If how we eat is patterned after the foods of our childhood, this explains it. I come from a family of hearty-southern food eaters. Meals consisted of beef and pork roasts, juicy hams, smothered chicken, hot buttered cornbread, baked macaroni and cheese and long simmered soups and stews. There was no room for a boring, quickly cooked chicken breast among this lot.
Even on weeknights a quick meal was never the goal. They were just as hearty as Sunday suppers, just scaled down a bit. It wasn’t unusual for my mother to come home from work, plop a ham hock into a pot of water and boil it til the meat could barely cling to its bones. Then take this smoky infused broth and use it to make fresh greens that would be eaten along with roast chicken or pork chops.
These days weeknight meals have become synonymous with “quick”. But quick meals to me mean something put together with little thought to flavor or creativity. So I tend to avoid just throwing things together for the sake of having prepared a meal.
The boneless and skinless chicken breast is also associated with the word quick. With good reason; it requires very little in the way of preparation and it does cook rather quickly. It’s just that chicken breast can be, as I mentioned earlier, boring and uninteresting. The problem isn’t the chicken breast, it’s the ways in which it’s cooked. Poached and served with a bagged salad? Big yawn. Even if you’re watching your diet it doesn’t take much effort to throw the breast together with a few fresh herbs and seasonal vegetables and let it all roast or steam until the chicken is done.
Or better yet, you could make this quick, yet tasty, curry chicken.
It’s based on a dish my mother used to make with beef cubes that she stewed in a curry flavored broth. But over the years not having the time to long simmer beef cubes, on a weeknight, but yet wanting something spicy and interesting, I traded the beef for boneless, skinless chicken breast. The curry spices marry well with the chicken and ladled over hot steaming rice its divine and not at all-the “b” word.
Recipe: Chicken with tomatoes and spicy curry sauce- adapted with variations from Martha Stewart
1/4 c all-purpose flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-sized onion chopped finely
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of regular curry powder or hot curry powder
2 teaspoons cumin
about 4 or 5 small red potatoes skin on and scrubbed clean and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with juice
Dry chicken breast very well if a little moist and season with kosher salt and black pepper.
Place flour on a plate and dredge chicken breast in flour shaking off excess.
In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the chicken breast and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.
Put remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in skillet; cook onion and garlic, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about five minutes. Stir in curry powder and cumin; cook spices for one minute.
Add potatoes and 1 cup of water to skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the skillet and cook until the potatoes are just tender but not fully done. About a total of seven minutes. Add the diced tomatoes to the skillet stir in 1/4 cup of water and add the chicken and any juices on the plate to the skillet. Simmer, covered until chicken is done about 8-10 minutes more.
Serve with rice.