A few years ago, I hosted an Easter brunch in the garden, and as a hostess gift I gave all of the guests my (then) very favorite (and still one of my top five) cookbook. Wrapped in pastel tartan and chiffon ribbon, inside this lovely little package, guests found the book Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pepin.
Like many others, I had watched his series on PBS and loved his approach. His cookbook is filled with delicious, unique ideas for easy family meals, and truly simple and elegant recipes for entertaining. Fast Food My Way is one of those books that I turn to again and again, and I highly recommend it for any cook’s library. It can be easily purchased from Amazon.
One of our favorite family meals on weekly rotation comes from Pepin’s book. Believe me, his “Chicken Breasts with Garlic and Parsley” are full of flavor, quick to make, and everyone at the table, from my four-year-old to my husband, loves them.
For this meal, I also made a bed of Cajun Grain brown jasmine rice to go with the chicken. Cajun Grain is an amazing family-owned farm based out of Louisiana. They grow their rice without pesticides or commercial fertilizers, and the blends they sell are absolutely delicious (the one I ordered had grains of wild red rice mixed in with the brown to give it a fuller flavor and more varied texture). Unless you live near Kinder Louisiana, the only way to get this rice is by the old-fashioned way–sending a check in the mail. Nevertheless, it’s totally worth it, and all of the necessary information can be found on the company website: http://cajungrainrice.com/.
Chicken Breasts with Garlic and Parsley
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (each about 7 ounces), cut into 1 to 1.5 inch cubes
2 tablespoons Wondra flour (you can substitute all-purpose if you need to)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lemon, quartered
Dry the chicken cubes with paper towels (I simply toss them right on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels as I cut them up) and then into a bowl with the flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the chicken cubes, and cook in one layer, turning occasionally, for about 3.5 minutes (this takes me about three batches – on the last round I add a bit more oil).
After all the chicken has cooked and is resting to the side, add the butter to a skillet followed by the garlic, parsley, and the cooked chicken and sauté for 1 minute longer, shaking the pan occasionally to coat the chicken.
Serve within 15 minutes.
How I plated for the Hubby and the kids:
I coated the bottom of a shallow bowl with butter lettuce leaves that had been cleaned and segmented (to do this, I slice the rib of the lettuce in half and then pull those halves apart). I also added a few cherry tomatoes from the garden – my last few! Then I spooned the chicken over the greens and added a bit of brown jasmine rice on the side. After that, I drizzled lemon, olive oil, sea salt and red chili flakes over the plate. The girls are not into lettuce on their plates, so I just spooned some rice on the plate with the chicken some sliced veggies. Pepin recommends simply serving the dish with a wedge of lemon on the side. One of the great things about this dish is that it goes with so many things that, really, how you serve it is up to you or your family’s taste.