February 20, 2009

PW's Ranch Chicken

The husband and I were supposed to go to a swanky restaurant tonight for our official V-day date. Unfortunately, I did not sleep at ALL last night. I tossed. I turned. I pretended to sleep. Nothing worked. I literally stared at the back of my eyelids all night long. It was so frustrating! When the husband got up for work this morning at 5:15am, I was still awake. Normally at this hour I am comatose, so my husband was quite surprised to find out that I had not slept. Ugh. I asked him to cancel our reservation, since I knew that I would not be able to enjoy our dinner out on zero sleep. Today was just not the day. Hopefully, we will be able to reschedule soon. Needless to say, I have been a zombie all day.

Since we were planning on having dinner out, I did not have anything on the menu for tonight's meal. I finally got around to a decision at about 3 pm this afternoon, which did not leave me a lot of time for preparation. I remembered this recipe from the Pioneer Woman website, and I have been wanting to try it. I have all the ingredients, so there is no time like the present! Best of all, I have just enough time to marinate the chicken for an hour as the recipe recommends. Perfect! It looks like it comes together quickly, especially considering a major substitution. I don't have chicken breasts, but I do have about 12 ounces of chicken breast tenders. Since they are small and pretty thin, I think I will skip the whole pounding step. Thankfully, I have two bunches of asparagus and decent sized potatoes for side items. The chicken is a bit skimpy, but with yummy roasted asparagus and baked potatoes it should all work out okay. Since I am looking forward to trying this chicken dish, I don't mind so much that we are not going out for dinner!

PW's Ranch Chicken

1/2 cup of Dijon or grainy mustard
1/2 cup of honey
juice of 1/2 of a lemon (about 1 Tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (optional)
boneless, skinless chicken breasts
thick cut bacon
bacon grease
canola oil

To begin, mix together 1/2 cup Dijon or country/grainy mustard with 1/2 cup honey. Add juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. And have some fun here! Sprinkle in some crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne if you like things a little spicy. Whisk it until smooth.

Pound the chicken breast between two sheets of waxed paper, until about 1/2 inch thick. Next, just add all the chicken to the bowl with the marinade. You’ll want to cover this with plastic wrap and let it marinate in the fridge for at least an hour—usually I let it go about 2 to 3 hours, but that’s only because I’m always running behind. While the chicken is marinating, go ahead and fry up some bacon. Next, and this is important, reserve 1/4 cup of the bacon grease, and go ahead and clean out the skillet. Otherwise, it’ll get too smoky.

When you’re ready to prepare the chicken, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the chicken from the fridge and pour off excess marinade into the sink. Heat half of the reserved bacon grease with an equal quantity of Canola Oil in the clean skillet over medium-high to high heat. (We want to sear the chicken, not cook it completely.)
When the grease is sufficiently heated, add a batch of chicken to the skillet. Don’t overcrowd the skillet—just 3 pieces is usually enough. Watch the chicken, and when it starts to get brown/black on one side, flip it to the other side. Cook just until brown/blackish areas appear. Each side should cook for a maximum of 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Repeat with all the chicken breasts, then set them on a large baking sheet. If you look a little closer, you’ll notice the chicken is definitely not fully cooked.

Go ahead and throw the pan of chicken into the hot oven for about ten minutes to continue cooking. Then remove the pan from the oven and lay a couple of bacon slices over each chicken breast. Next, grab some grated sharp cheddar and sprinkle it over the top as generously as you’d like. Just return the pan to the oven for an additional five minutes, or until cheese is melted and bacon is sizzling. Then serve immediately.

The Result:
This chicken was sinful. So delicious...it felt wrong. I think it was all the bacon and cheese that made it so good. Oh man! The marinade was awesome, and the chicken itself was so juicy and flavorful!!! Every bite created some sort of 'mmmmm' noise from around my table. Seriously, fan-freakin'-tastic. Since this is not the healthiest of meals, I will have to reserve it for a "once in awhile" dish...the husband suggested twice a week could be considered "once in awhile". Definitely try this chicken...you will not be sorry. You may need a shower afterward...

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