Here’s the thing about cooking with the seasons. It is not only more delicious, it makes the whole endeavor easier, at least it seems to for me.
It being winter — by the calendar if not by ambient temps which are currently unusually high in upstate NY — carrots and parsnips are abundant. A good carrot is a delicious thing. Forget the bags in the supermarket and, yes, I am encouraging you again, to head to your farmers market. I am hooked on carrots from Farm at Miller’s Crossing in Claverack, NY, which has carrots as sweet as can be. Good raw and, for dinner, roasted. I like roasted carrots with their cousin root — parsnips. The roasting concentrates the flavor, makes a nice substantial (non-mushy) texture, and they’re simply delicious. Here’s how:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel 2 carrots and 2 parsnips for person. Cut in half, and then into julienne/mini-spears, by cutting each half in half lengthwise, and then into 3 or 4 strips lengthwise.
Pour a T or 2 of olive oil onto a large baking sheet or pan, toss on your cut carrots and parsnips, S&P and, if you have it, a couple sprigs of thyme. (Alternately, you could crumble on a pinch of dried thyme, or skip.) Toss everything together with your hands or other utensil, and put in oven for 15-20 minutes, moving vegetables around with a spatula a couple times while they are roasting. These are forgiving and will not cause stress if you get concerned about getting everything to the table at the same time. If they are done before the rest of the meal, you can turn off the oven and leave them in, and then remove and serve them warm-ish, even close to room temperature.
Then get to cooking your chicken breast.
Take a boneless chicken breast, cut into it horizontally to divide in half. The fancy word for this is “butterfly” if you stop short of cutting completely in half. Anyway, we’re looking for a half, so cut through. It’s easier if you start from the thicker side. Dry off and place on its own plate. Season with a liberal amount of S&P. Put a bit of flour on a separate plate.
Take out about 4 mushrooms per person. I like crimini as my all-purpose, because they have more flavor than oh, plain button mushrooms. A small shallot per person, or half large.
Get out your stock. Chicken or turkey stock is good for this. If you have not thought to defrost your homemade stock, stick the frozen container in a bowl of water for a few minutes, which will loosen the liquid from the container. Then dump into a small pan and heat. (Microwavers can do it their way.) (I am not giving directions here for store-bought, but actually that should be fine to use here.)
Meanwhile, wash and thickly slice the mushrooms. Dice and chop the shallot coarsely.
Heat some olive oil and butter in saute pan. Lay each chicken breast onto floured plate, turning on both sides and shaking off excess. Put each piece of chicken, now thin, into pan and saute over relatively high heat for a couple minutes, flip over, and cook a minute or two, and then remove to a warm plate. (I warm plates by putting on top of stove while oven is on.)
Add a bit more butter to (the same!) pan if dry, then put in shallots and mushrooms, S&P, and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring. When done and mushrooms look like something you would want to eat, put in about 1/3 c. stock, raise heat and stir to reduce liquid by at least half. Add a knob of butter and after you mix that in, return the chicken to the pan, and get everything acquainted with all that’s in the pan, stirring and moving for a minute or so.
Remove and eat with your side of roasted carrots and parsnips. Delicious!
Dinner in half an hour!