I hate to brag, but I made something amazing with
fennel this afternoon.
Ok, maybe I’ve grown more fond of bragging than I used to.
But I think it’s important for people to acknowledge their strengths, and it’s taken me
40 or so years to realize and accept the fact that I really love to cook.
Today I created my own, completely my own, not stolen and tweaked, recipe.
And it was gooood.
I’ve added it to the recipe page here at Schinkels’, so you can see it in “recipe card” style,
but I thought I’d walk you through some of the finer techniques here just to avoid confusion.
The Creative Process
Starting with Schinkels’ Chicken Breasts, bone-in, I promptly de-boned
and de-skinned them, so you might want to skip that step and
just buy Schinkels’ Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts.
Since they were Schinkels’ Chicken Breasts
(have you seen Schinkels’ chicken breasts? Seriously, they are huge!),
I had to filet them, first taking the chicken finger off,
then the piece right below the finger,
then cut sideways through the thickest part of the breast
so that I ended up with 4 pieces that were equally thick.
Of course, for my family, I had to do that to four of
Schinkels’ enormous breasts,
so I had quite the pile by the time I was done.
Next, I dipped them in a flour, garlic salt and pepper mixture.
Pretty sure I started with 1/2 cup flour, and about a teaspoon of garlic salt
and then just ground some pepper into it.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for my pile, so I had to add
some more of everything again,
but I think for average sized families that should be enough.
Added some butter to my large fry pan, and I quickly
browned the breasts, both sides and then set them aside.
The insides were still raw, but the outsides were golden brown.
Again, since my pile was pretty big, I had to add butter about half way through,
but you just want to have a thin layer covering the bottom of the pan.
What’s in the fridge?
After all the chicken were cooked, I threw a bunch of thick sliced
cremini mushrooms into the pan (same butter)
and sautéd them until their juices were released.
Also thrown in were some crushed garlic, shredded fennel root,
and some of the fronds, chopped up very fine.
Ok, so I know not everyone has fennel roots just lying around their kitchens.
I had had Greg order me a fennel root for the fried cabbage
I was experimenting with earlier this week.
There was still some fennel root and fronds left in my fridge.
Since I’m me, I did some research and discovered
that you can freeze the shredded fennel root
as well as the chopped up fennel fronds from the top, so
that’s what I did with what was left for the next time
I’m experimenting, or making cabbage.
So, then next time you notice fennel in the produce aisle,
do yourself a favour, and buy one. I doubt you will be disappointed.
A Word to the Wise
A trick I’ve picked up is to add just a bit of salt to the mushrooms in the pan
– this releases the juices almost right away and creates a delicious broth
that adds a lot of flavour to the final dish.
Back to Creating
At the point when the mushrooms had suddenly turned dark,
but were not yet soggy, I added about a cup of “Chicken Broth” **
and then stirred up all the bits of mushroom, flour and chicken into it.
I think that is called “glazing” the pan. Could be wrong.
Also added a cup of sour cream and a cup of milk.
Now, a lot of recipes call for heavy cream to make the cream sauce,
but I love the taste that sour cream adds to a dish.
It’s just a bit of, well, sour.
So I just use equal parts milk and sour cream,
and it usually turns out just fine for texture and thickness.
The flour that was left from the chicken is all
I needed tonight to thicken the broth, but you might
want to add a bit more if you want a really thick sauce.
Just be sure to first mix equal parts flour and warm water
in a separate cup to smooth out all the chunks,
then add it to slightly boiling broth, stirring constantly.
Time to Relax
So, now I replaced the chicken back into my pan, and covered them
all with the broth and set it on a low simmer for about 20 minutes
while I poured myself a nice glass of wine and put my feet up as
I contemplated my blessings.
Ok, so seriously, that’s when I set the brown rice and carrots boiling,
and did all the dishes that managed to migrate back into my kitchen
as I dictated to my kids their respective jobs to clean my house before dinner.
Yes, we all work as a team here.
A lovely, well-trained, ever joyous team of cheerful helpers.
Yes, the joy was flowing.
Ok, not really.
They were pretty grumpy at being pulled away from their respective
recreational activities to do the first chore of their day at 5:30.
But, all that aside, by the time Greg arrived home at 6:10,
dinner was served, and it was very good.
** Chicken Broth can always be substituted with white wine in my kitchen
– adds the “restaurant” taste and smell to every dish