How to ruin a chicken

I walked all the way to Brooklyn yesterday to buy organic chicken. I just don’t like the idea of a chicken eating pulverized mystery meat, living a little too close to her friends and family, and then perishing in a prolonged panic. Not that getting your neck wrung is ever pleasant, but I like to think that the guy who packs the heat at the organic farm goes in fast and gets it over with before the chicken has time to think things over.

A few blocks over from where I get my organic, you can even get a live chicken if you wanted to, but not in my lifetime will I be plucking chickens for dinner.

When I got home, trying to save a few minutes by not heating up the oven, I seasoned the breast, seared it off in the hot pan with my garlic, rosemary and olive oil, flipped it, and then left it to finish cooking. This is a big mistake. If you were just searing each side of a piece of meat or fish, and you were looking for a rare or medium rare temperature, then there is no problem. Or if you had a skinny little piece of chicken, it will cook fast enough to stay juicy. What happens when you try to cook through a thick piece of meat in a pan on top of the stove is that it steams and gets as tough as old shoe leather by the time it’s done. Once you sear the top side, or smooth side of the breast, pop the whole pan into a preheated 400 degree oven and roast the chicken just until it is no longer pink.
The sauce was good. I sauted a tiny yellow onion until it was completely cooked through, and than added some sliced mushrooms with a sprig of thyme, stirring them around until they were soft. Right at the end, I added a handful of baby spinach leaves, and wilted them with a drizzle of cream and a teaspoon of garlic that I had poached. If you have no time for poaching, just add the garlic in the beginning with the onions, but if you do have the time, separate a head of garlic cloves, and simmer them in water for about half an hour or more, until completely softened. Strain, and pop them out of their skins. Mash with a fork, and stir a little into soups, sauces, or drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, and serve with chicken or fish.
I served it with crusty bread and called it a night. If I had been in a better mood, I would have had hard salami along side, and a salad of radishes, parmesan and thinly sliced celery, drizzled with olive oil.
Now you know the secret, and hopefully the next time, I’ll remember the secret.

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