I seem to have contracted one of those won’t-go-away illnesses, and with that, as you all know, come the craving for certain foods. I have soaked grilled cheese sandwiches in tomato soup, just as dad taught me to do when I was a small sick person. I sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on toast, from my grandmother’s metal shaker.
Then, ready for something a little more substantial and faced with my weekly delivery of boneless chicken breasts, I decided to try Chicken Breast with Cream of Herb Sauce.
I had every ingredient on hand save the herbs, which required a trek to the supermarket down the street, the farthest I could stand to venture, where as I stood in line to pay, I had time to ponder many things:
Does anyone here realize these are not actually my pajamas? Should I say something?
Why am I still reading about Trista, that first Bachelorette, on magazine cover lines? Isn’t there a new Bachelorette and didn’t she already dump her rose ceremony guy? And wouldn’t it be cool if they had a hydrangea ceremony instead?
How should I feel about the fact that this basil I am about to buy was imported from Israel?
So, back home and still in not-exactly-pajamas, I realized that my butcher gave me two small breasts this week, rather than the usual four, so I set out to halve this recipe. I still cut up two shallots, because I love them and because “average” is in the eye of the knife wielder. I put my chicken in the butter – that’s right kids, butter, because katierk’s favorite meal when she is home alone is stuffed fillet mignon, chicken and cream sauce, or lasagna.
Next it was time to deglaze the pan and sauté up those shallots, and things started smelling delicious, in a very familiar way. Let me pause here to say I did not measure my wine; I just tossed some in the pan. You can do that too. Also, believe it or not, I do own xanthan gum, but I am afraid of it, so went with flour instead, and I do not own garlic powder, so I skipped that part.
After that cooked up for a while, it was more wine (Riesling, which is what I had laying around and was perfect) and one cup of cream, which ended up creating too much sauce for two breasts, which cooked about 5 minutes in the pan, but that didn’t matter as I also made orzo, which soaked up the rest nicely.
I sat down before my all white plate and was reminded of a giddy night years ago with Amanda at La Grenouille, where we ate pike quenelles Lyonnaise (white fish with white sauce) served with white rice, followed by, I believe, a dessert soufflé. (Beige.) We laughed at our plates, wondered dreamily about the flower budget of the restaurant, and praised our good fortune that someone else was paying for dinner.
I had no preexisting comfort memory attached to this simple and lovely chicken by katierk, but I found one in the creamy, slightly acidic (thanks Riesling) and gently perfumed pleasure on my plate.
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.
Photo by James Ransom