Pierre Franey and his series of 60-Minute Gourmet cookbooks taught a generation of Americans the versatility and speed of the classic French saute.
Franey would cook whatever was for dinner - chicken or beef or veal or fish - deglaze the cooking pan with red or white wine, tomato sauce or whatever, and then enrich the sauce with stock or cream or both. The technique would always be the same, but the results were markedly, deliciously, different.
This dish of boneless chicken breasts paired with roasted red peppers in a mustard- and cream-laced sauce is an adaptation of one of Franey's recipes. The red, green or yellow of the bell pepper adds color, the mustard gives zip and the chicken is juicy under its lightly browned crust.
I like to serve the chicken atop steamed white rice so the kernels absorb some of the sauce. Cap the meal with something light: fresh, seasonal berries served as is, or sprinkled with a little fruit liqueur, work well.
Homemade chicken stock is nice, but canned works just as well. Just watch the salt. Try using a low-sodium product and adjust seasonings accordingly.
Jarred roasted peppers can be substituted for fresh peppers, but drain thoroughly.
Cook with whatever white wine you'll be drinking with the meal.
Chicken and peppers in cream sauce
Seasonal berries drizzled with orange liqueur or aged balsamic vinegar
White wine or sparkling water spritzed with lemon
Chicken and Peppers in Cream Sauce
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes; cooking time: 20 minutes
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded 1/4 inch thick
1 teaspoon salt (divided use)
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, cut into strips
1/3 cup white wine
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
3/4 cup canned low-fat, reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons whipping cream or half-and-half
Season chicken with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and pepper to taste. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add chicken; cook until golden on one side, about 6 minutes. turn; cook until golden, 3 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan; set aside.
Add the pepper strips to the pan; drizzle with a little oil if necessary to keep from sticking. Stir-fry over medium-high heat until the pepper just begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Remove the peppers from the pan; set aside.
Pour the wine into the skillet; cook, stirring up the browned bits clinging to the pan, over high heat until wine is reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 1 minute. Stir in the mustard. Add the chicken broth; cook until broth begins to reduce, about 2 minutes. Add the cream, stirring constantly, until it thickens, about 30 seconds. Reduce heat to low; return chicken and pepper strips to pan. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Per serving: 242 calories; 13 grams fat; 3.5 grams saturated fat; 83 milligrams cholesterol; 3 grams carbohydrate; 28 grams protein; 811 milligrams sodium; 0 grams fiber
-- Recipe and analysis from the Chicago Tribune, a Tribune Publishing newspaper