Dinner Dreams

I have been walking around with a notebook lately, and writing in it like a crazy person.  I want to know–what do women want.  If you could have anything to make your life easier, or the life you dream of (if you aren’t already living it) what would that be?  Do you want to have a coffee and croissant at a cafe in Paris? Would you want someone to hand you a weekly grocery list or a new job?  Do you want quiet?  Do you want someone to sort through your mail?  Do you want to wander through Bloomingdales  or a field or a farmers market or the Met? Do you know what your kids are thinking? Let me know. I’m interested.

Send it to me at fayehess@earthlink.net and I will send you a note to say thank you.

You want to know what to make for dinner tonight? For some reason lately, all I want to eat is chicken, but you could make this same meal, and do exactly the same thing with a two pound piece of top round.  Just sear it off, and then use red wine instead of white wine.  Throw it in the oven, sitting on top of the garlic cloves and rosemary, and for extra measure you could even throw in a tomato (whole or halved–doesn’t matter–you just want it for it’s flavor in the juice.)
Brown off chicken breasts (faster than a whole chicken, but you can still do extra and to have for lunch tomorrow) and serve them with roasted potatoes and string beans.  Nothing fancy, but everyone will eat it.

Grocery list:

2 whole chicken breasts (organic–that’s my dream) with skin and bones attached

1 1/2 pounds of fresh string beans

3 pounds of yukon potatoes

olive oil


fresh garlic

The rosemary and the garlic are optional.  At least buy an onion–flavor is a huge inspiration for both eating and cooking, but you can start small and work your up, or not.  Lay the chicken breasts out on a piece of wax paper.  You can cut them into halves, but you don’t have to.  Some people get freaked out by touching the raw meat too much.  Salt them well on both sides with kosher salt (use your fingers to pick up the salt from a dish.)  In a heavy, hot frying pan, give a spill of olive oil, and add the chicken, skin side down.  Let them sear until well browned, without moving or messing with them.  Remove from the pan.  Add a few cloves of whole garlic (or an onion cut into wedeges) and a sprig of rosemary, and let that go for a few minutes.  Give the pan a pour of delicious white wine and let it sizzle for another minute.  The wine will “clean” up the pan for you.  Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Set the chicken breasts into the a roasting pan (or you can leave them right in the frying pan if the handle of the pan is oven safe–CHECK IT FIRST.)  Pour the juices from the pan over the top.

Bring a few inches of water to the boil, and add a spill of olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt.  Pick the plant end (or find a child to do it) from the string beans, give them a rinse by dunking them into a bowl of cold water, and then lift them out and into the pan of boiling water.  Cover.  Cook until just tender and drain IMMEDIATELY.  (I hate to shout about these things, but they can make or break dinner.)  Cut up a few garlic cloves (into halves) and add them (raw) to the beans.  Give the beans a little shower of kosher salt, some freshly ground black pepper and a spill of olive oil.  These are great room temperature, so you can just let these sit.  Open the oven, and spoon some of the pan juices over the chicken.  If there is not enough juice in the bottom of the pan, just use a little water from the tap.
Cut up your potatoes, without peeling. Set them onto a cookie sheet, and sprinkle with kosher salt and a drizzle of olive oil.  Take your chicken out of the oven (just split one open a little and check to see if you see any pink.  It should look cooked through, but not dried out.  The juices should run clear.  For breasts, I would say about a half an hour of cooking time would be sufficient, but it depends on the size.  Turn the oven to broil and set the temperature to 450 degrees.  Put the cookie sheet of potatoes on the top rack.  Now remove the chicken from the pan, and either set the pan onto the stove or if it’s a roasting pan, scrape the stuff on the bottom and back into the frying pan you used to brown the chicken.  Warm it to a simmer, add another pour of white wine, and let it go for 2 minutes over a medium heat.  Turn off the flame, and swirl in a tablespoon of butter.  Taste for salt.  You might want to add a few tablespoons of water or another tablespoon of butter.

Cut the chicken with a scissors, or a knife into smaller chunks (you don’t have to take it off the bone) and pour your gravy on top.  Check the potatoes in the oven.  They should be tender and browned.

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