How many memories are evoked from the scent of something baking or bubbling on the stove in the kitchen of your grandmother or mom? Growing up in the 60’s most moms of my peer group,cooked out of the necessity to feed a family. There were no sun-dried tomatoes, anchovy paste or fancy lettuces at our home. Mom could make a fabulous meat loaf from a meager pound of hamburg. She could whip up a chocolate eggless cake which we would devour before she could even frost it. She made awesome oatmeal cookies heavy with raisins , brown sugar & walnuts. Growing up in an Irish Catholic neighborhood we were pretty much eating what everyone else was, simple food that could go from pot to table by 6:00. Simple food, simply prepared & these days considered classics.
My mom is no longer with us. A victim of a breast cancer diagnosis that took her from our family almost 30 years ago. Thinking back to my childhood, she would always let me help her in the kitchen. Whether it was stirring a pot to make pudding or sauce for meatballs, or tearing up iceberg lettuce for a salad. I did not realize then that that feeling of creating something out of a bunch of wet & dry ingredients, would be the start of my life long passion for cooking & eating.
We prepared a beautiful dinner in our restaurant in the Inn celebrating the wives of several guests , who’s husbands snuck them away for an overnight in Vermont. Dinner included a fresh salad of baby spinach, sliced strawberries, toasted almonds & small clods of Vermont goat cheese, topped with a maple lemon vinaigrette. Our entree consisted of a skin on split chicken breast stuffed with a mixture of sun-dried tomatoes, proscuitto , parmesan reggiano, fresh basil & softened butter. The dish is sauteed & finished with a lemon caper butter & a splash of Marsala wine. Since this is peak asparagus season, we roasted a big beautiful batch with olive oil & salt & pepper & served it unadorned so the flavor s would shine through.A perfect accompaniment to the chicken was a baked risotto. I adapted an Ina Garten recipe( Barefoot Contessa) to include some brown basmati rice ,rather than all aborio. If you love risotto & hate standing at the stove stirring for 45 minutes, than you must try this recipe. Dessert was a lemon pound cake recipe from James Beard cookbook. Just thinking of his portly posture , bald head & impish grin makes me feel nostalgic. I made a homemade batch of orange honey ice ream & a berry sauce of raspberries & strawberries simmered with sugar, Chambord & some lemon zest. I would say we paid proper homage to the moms at our dining table.The husbands seemed pretty content too!
Stuffed Chicken Breasts
3 Tbs. freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
2 Tbs. chopped prosciutto, domestic is fine
2 Tbs. finely chopped Sun dried Tomatoes
10 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
2 Tbs. softened butter
Salt & freshly ground pepper
2 boneless chicken breasts, skin on
Heat oven to 450. In a small bowl combine the Parmesan, prosciutto, sun dried tomatoes, basil & butter and mix until blended. Add salt & pepper to taste.
Take the chicken breast & cut a pocket into the meat. Stuff half the mixture into the pocket. Chill both stuffed breasts for 10 minutes.
Season both sides of chicken with salt & pepper. Heat a saute pan to medium high. Add 1 Tbs.oil & 1 Tbs.butter. Add chicken skin side down & saute until a golden brown. Gently flip over to brown that side.
Remove the chicken from the pan & place in a baking dish & bake for 10 minutes.
In the saute pan you cooked the chicken in, take a wooden spoon & stir a bit to loosen browned bits. Add 2 Tbs. capers , 2 Tbs. Marsala wine & a good squeeze of lemon juice. Then add 2 Tbs. of butter & swirl into the pan until combined.
Remove chicken from the oven and pour pan juices over & serve.