Monday, July 12, 2010

Chicken l'orange

I got this idea from the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry fails to enjoy himself at the dinner party at home and then learns that their caterer took home some of the Chicken l'orange and apple turnovers that they had paid for.   Since I was expecting eggplant in my Pinckney's stash but got a couple of small yellow squash instead, along with a surprise bag of spinach from Steve, I figured this would be an easy and somewhat unusual way to dispense with those items plus a package of boneless skinless chicken in the freezer.  I did buy some slivered almonds for this purpose as indicated in the recipe I used, but it would have been just as good without.  I also left out the sugar and pineapple juice this recipe called for and skipped the dredging in flour.  OK, here goes:

Chicken l'orange:
4 tbsp Smart Balance
1 package boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 cup orange juice
1 cup white wine
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup slivered almonds

In a wide, shallow pan, melt the Smart Balance over medium-high (one notch above medium).  Salt and pepper chicken well on both sides.  Add chicken to pan and cook until browned, about 5 minutes on each side. 

Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. When chicken is ready, add to a 1.5 inch or deeper baking ban and pour juice/wine mixture over the chicken.  Bake on 325 for 30 minutes, basting occasionally, then raise heat to 350 degrees and bake another 15 minutes.

(Here's where I did something really different from the recipe...)

Remove chicken from baking pan, transfer to a plate, cover with foil and set aside.

Melt 2 tbsp Smart Balance in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir in 2 tbsp of flour and stir will until combined with no lumps.  Pour in pan juices and stir well and often for about 10 minutes or until mixture has a syrup-like consistency.  Put chicken breast pieces on individual plates and spoon over with thickened orange-wine sauce.

Had to do seemed like a needless waste of the pan juices to pour a little bit over the chicken after cooking and call it a night.

Also pictured:

Yellow squash risotto:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 cups vegetable broth diluted by 1 cup water
1 cup uncooked arborio rice
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
fresh ground pepper

In a 2-quart saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add squash and saute gently until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add arborio rice, stir and saute another two minutes.  Lower heat and begin adding diluted broth, about one cup at a time, to the rice/squash pan and stir often, adding another cup at a time as the liquid is absorbed by the rice.  Once the rice has absorbed all the liquid, remove from heat.  Stir in Parmesan and fresh ground pepper and serve.

And last, but not least:

Sauteed spinach
Pan drippings from chicken l'orange
4 oz. fresh spinach, washed and torn
fresh ground pepper to taste

Once the chicken is in the oven and the risotto is either finished or well on its way, bring the temperature of the chicken juices back up to medium.  Add spinach and sautee until warm, no more than 5 minutes.  Add pepper and serve.

And I cannot tell a lie: I didn't get much sleep Saturday night because of some noisy neighbors at the campground (and the thunderstorm, from which Steve and I were protected by a thin layer of waterproof tent canvas; the neighbors' chatter had something to do with their tent leaking, and they also seemed unaware that tents aren't soundproof).  So, by the time I finished cooking, I was through being hungry and already thinking about going to bed - at 7:30!  So I ended up packing all the chicken and risotto in leftover containers with the amount of sauce that I thought was just enough for the chicken.  Since this left me with some extra sauce, I put that and some of the spinach on a plate (after taking the picture) and mopped up the sauce with a piece of bread.  Based on that limited encounter, I can attest that the chicken and spinach went well together.  The spinach cooked in the pan juices took up a lot of the salt that had been sprinkled on the chicken, and the pungent, slightly sweet sauce provided a nice contrast.  And about a tablespoon of the slivered almonds made it onto my plate as well, so I didn't feel like I was suffering a protein deficit.  Looking forward to the leftovers!

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