As the Fall days progress into increasing darkness and cool air I have a natural tendency to lean toward warmer flavors and comfort foods. The color and texture of foods change, the farmer’s market is filled with deeper richer color and tastes. Whenever I get a whiff of the piney perfume of rosemary it moves me to think of cozy sweaters and turning on stoves. Into the kitchen, to make a comforting culinary cocoon.
Pan chicken is a classic. The floured breast gives up enough juice to create a baseline to make a lemony rosemary sauce. Silky from the thickening flour left on the bottom of the pan, rounded out by a lump of butter- the rosemary is the mid tone with it’s harmonious partner, garlic, and at the top, the bright zing of lemon.
All it needed is a creamy pairing of grits that is laced with some healthy chunks of smoked cheddar. Polenta here would be fine, but to my taste just a tad too corny. The grits are more neutral and I make them to the creamier side. The gooey mush with the earthy tones of the cheddar lend a beautiful base line to this harmony.
Smoked Cheddar Grits
makes 4 servings
3.75 c chicken broth
1c instant grits
healthy pinch of salt
6oz of smoked cheddar cut into small chunks
In a medium large heavy saucepan warm the grits to boiling.
While agitating the water add the grits and stir to smoothness and reduce the heat. Cover the pan and allow the grits to swell and thicken for about 8 mins. Stirring occasionally.
The grits should not be as thick as oatmeal coming out the pot. They will set as they cool, so if necessary add some additional chicken broth to create a thinner mush.
Keep the grits warm while you prepare the chicken.
Just before serving toss in the cheese and give it a gentle stir. Let it sit for a minute to melt the cheese. I like to find pockets of melty cheese in my grits so I don’t mix them again after this.
Lemon Rosemary Chicken
4 large chicken breasts-trimmed and pounded to an even thickness
a few T of AP flour seasoned with Salt and Pepper
1 clove crushed minced garlic
.5 c white wine
.5 c chicken stock
2T fresh rosemary rough chopped
Juice and grated rind of one good lemon
Place the flour mixture on a plate and dredge the chicken on both sides, giving it a healthy coating
In a large frying pan melt the butter and add the garlic. Sautee gently for a few minutes to release the flavor of the garlic into the butter taking care not to toast it.
Add the chicken and cooking on the first side ~5 minutes- turning once and cooking for another ~3 until done. Please adjust cooking times to your heat level and thickness of breast.
Remove the chicken and place on a side plate then cover to keep warm while preparing the sauce.
In the pan, over medium high heat, pour in the wine and deglaze the pan. The flour that is left behind will create a thick lumpy sauce. Slowly add the chicken stock while continually stirring the sauce smooth.
Add the rosemary and allow the sauce to gently simmer for a few minutes to cook out the flour and meld the flavors.
Right before serving stir in the lemon rind and juice. You can add the chicken back into the pan to coat the chicken with the sauce and make it warmer, or simply spoon the sauce over the breasts.
Be sure to taste the sauce when it is done to balance out the flavors. Feel free to add a bit more butter or seasoning if you feel it needs it.
To my understanding leftover grits are not to be done, but I wouldn’t let any of it go to waste. The next morning I reheated the grits in a pan with a little milk to bring back the creaminess. To go along with it poached eggs with runny centers were perfection.