Thursday, October 21, 2010

Staying Sane - Panko-Crusted Chicken with Mustard Maple Pan Sauce

Lately, if feels a bit as if I'm losing my mind. I forget where my car is parked on a regular basis, I'm constantly leaving my wallet or phone at home, e-mails and phone calls go unanswered, and trying to make even the smallest decision leaves me at a loss.

My friends who've delved into working from home before tease me about my good intentions at the start, "Remember all those yoga classes you were going to take? All the time you'd supposedly have to cook?" I dimly remember thinking I would have more time to do those things. So far, I have yet to make those activities materialize on a regular basis.

The nice thing about it is, there's no time to be bored. There's nothing worse than sitting at a job, watching the minutes tick by and not feeling challenged. That's certainly not my problem, but as you might have gathered, I'm still having some trouble finding a balance to it all. On Monday I blink, and all of a sudden it's Friday. The weekends speed by, too short as always, and all I want to do is get out of the house and onto the road, out into the woods, taking a hike, picking apples, visiting friends. The weekend trips are keeping me sane.

And there happen to be a few on the horizon, I just hope that when they come, I can find a way to stretch out the minutes and hours to make it last just a bit longer.

And if there's one victory to this day, it's that I managed to sneak in half an hour to cook dinner. That's all it took, and the results were delicious. Panko crusted chicken, kind of like a "healthy" fried chicken, but with an amazing sauce. Maple and mustard, oddly enough, they go together, and fit the season as well.

This is a sauce that I've used for pork as well, it's a favorite. Feel free to use chicken breasts or chicken thighs, both are great. Is there anything better than a good pan sauce? No...I think not.

Panko-Crusted Chicken with Mustard Maple Pan Sauce
from Bon Appetit

2 8-ounce skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut crosswise in half (alternatively, you can use 4-6 skinless chicken thighs)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coarse-grained mustard
1 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter

Using meat mallet or rolling pin, pound chicken in resealable plastic bag to 1/3-to 1/2-inch thickness. Whisk egg, parsley, and 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard in large bowl. Place chicken in egg mixture; turn to coat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Dip each chicken piece in panko; turn to coat. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook until brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, whisk broth, syrup, coarse-grained mustard, and remaining 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard in glass measuring cup.

Transfer chicken to plates. Add broth mixture to skillet; boil until reduced to 3/4 cup, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add butter; whisk until melted. Spoon sauce alongside chicken.

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