Whenever the Vegetarian and I have someone over for dinner, I immediately think about what I’m going to make. Years ago, way before this blog, I had a few dishes that I always made when people came over for dinner. It usually consisted of a chicken dish, some sort of green and rice. I have found that most of the time, the most simple dishes are the biggest favorite of friends and guests. I guess it is sort of the idea of “less is more.” If you can make it delicious, it doesn’t matter how simple the dish was to make.
Last night, just as we did on August 31, 2010, the Vegetarian’s cousin came over for dinner, and I of course had to decide what we would eat. Just a few days ago I posted a review of Gusto, in the West Village, and on the menu was a Lemon Risotto. I convinced the Vegetarian not to order the dish, saying that I would make that for dinner at home. I decided that for our guest, I would make lemon risotto along side a pistachio crusted chicken breast. As a salad, we collectively agreed on an endive and white bean salad with fresh herbs and a white wine vinaigrette. The meal seemed balanced and nothing was too complicated.
I won’t post the recipe for the Lemon Risotto, since I have posted several risotto recipes in the past (here and here). The basic idea for the recipe is starting with shallots in the pot rather than onions and adding lemon zest, lemon juice, Parmesan and parsley at the end. The recipe comes from Bon Appetite. The salad that I made was just a couple endives, thinly sliced, a can of drained and washed white beans, parsley, basil and a dressing which consists of white wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper. Nothing fancy, just simple and delicious.
Here is the recipe for the pistachio crusted chicken, a recipe I found on Epicurious.
Recipe courtesy of Epicurious
2/3 cup shelled raw, unsalted, pistachios (recipe calls for 1 cup, but this is too much)
1/2 cup japanese panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
4 boneless/skinless chicken breast halves (you can either cut them in half lengthwise, or just use slightly thinner pieces)
2-4 tablespoons cooking oil – grapeseed, peanut oil (just not olive oil)
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400.
In a food processor, finely grind pistachios. Add bread crumbs and blend to combine. Pour out into shallow baking dish. In a small bowl or ramekin, mix mustard, basil, dill and rosemary and stir to combine.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over high heat with 2 tablespoons cooking oil. While heating up spread over chicken breasts on both sides. When oil begins to smoke, coat chicken breasts with pistachio/panko mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place into pan and cook about 2 minutes per side, until nicely browned on both sides. Don’t crowd pan, so do in two batches if necessary.
Return chicken to baking dish (with any extra mixture removed) and bake for 5-10 minutes, or until chicken is a 165 degrees.
When done, remove from oven and cover with foil to stay hot while you finish the sauce.
Mustard Cream Sauce
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup diced shallots
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
In a medium sauce pan, add wine and shallots and cook over high heat until wine is reduced completely. Add butter and milk, reduce heat to medium-high and reduce by half. Add mustard, dill and basil and cook an additional 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over chicken.