Simple, Simple, Simple

I had very little desire to cook anything last night. That is not to say that I wasn’t hungry. So fasting was out of the question. And both of us were tired, so whatever we did for dinner wasn’t going to include going out. I went to the market, hoping that some fantastic idea would leap into my mind as I walked the aisles. It didn’t happen, but they did have chicken breasts on sale that looked very good. And spinach is always a good bet, because it’s easy (and fast) to cook, and it tastes good.

I was all set, except for the trivial detail of having no idea what I was going to do with the chicken. When in doubt, use the biggest, heaviest tool in the kitchen. Ignoring the KitchenAid mixer, I picked up my trusty mallet. And not just any mallet. This mallet has beaten dozens of abalone steaks (but that’s another story). It would have to settle for a more pedestrian dish, but it was certainly up to the task. I put a chicken breast in a heavy-duty gallon ZipLoc bag and beat the hell out of it until it was about 1/2 inch thick. I used a sliding stroke, rather than straight-up-and-down, so the meat didn’t just turn to mush. I did that twice (two half chicken breasts, two people). A light dusting of flour, a bit of salt and pepper, and into a very hot nonstick pan into which I put a bit of butter (for flavor) and a bit of canola oil. Three minutes on each side, and the chicken was done. I deglazed the pan with some white wine (the crappy stuff in the back of the refrigerator), lemon juice and some parsley, reduced the liquid by half, and poured it over the chicken. The spinach was even easier. I heated up some olive oil in a big pot, sautéed one clove of chopped garlic, and tossed in the washed spinach. A few minutes on high heat, a pinch of salt and pepper, and we were ready to eat.

I describe this simple meal not to provide ideas, although it was tasty. The point is, cooking doesn’t have to be complex, or even planned. I cooked the chicken the way I did because I knew that my wife enjoys the tartnessof lemon juice. I pounded it because thin cooks faster than thick. I sautéed the spinach because it is the simplest and fastest way to cook it. Was it a glorious meal? No, but it was tasty and quick, and we both enjoyed it. Sometimes cooking isn’t the most important thing in the world!

2 Replies to “Simple, Simple, Simple”

  1. My only comment is that next time don’t use the crappy wine in the back of the fridge. Only use wine you will drink yourself. If its not good wine, the lousy taste will intensify.

  2. I was using a bit of hyperbole when I described it as “crappy,” but you bring up an interesting point. How much of the quality, or lack thereof, of the wine survives the cooking process? I think that any correctly made wine is sufficient for cooking. The old adage that one should use the best wine possible is flawed. Most of the subtleties of wine are cooked out. That doesn’t mean that, even if it tastes bad, it will be good enough to cook with, but using excellent wine for cooking is a waste. Wine Library TV has an excellent segment on how heat affects wine. I think that their results can be extrapolated to cooked wine.

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