Updated: Sep 12, 2021
With every new recipe I've tried from Magnolia Table, Volume 2 I feel like I'm becoming a better version of my cooking-self.
Mid-recipe, I opened up my kitchen window to let some smoke out from the stove, noticing that I desperately needed to wash the sills before moving out soon.
My cooking mistake led me to be greeted by a chorus of crickets and cicadas. Usually, I wouldn't find the sound of them comforting but tonight there was a strange romanticism to their summer coos.
I wiped out the burnt blackened crust on the cast iron skillet, the one that Griffin's grandmother, Maw Maw, had given me a year ago. A task so mundane, suddenly felt like an overwhelming blessing. Standing there, in my new overalls, I looked up from my chore and realized I was living the life I had always wanted to live. I paused to drink in the moment as if I couldn't get enough.
Somewhere in the neighborhood, someone had a fire going. I realized prior to pausing, I was going so fast I was taking shallow breaths. I forced myself to stop the rushed pace and breathed in a deep, cool refreshing breath. Ah.
I tried to make a mental note of my surroundings, realizing that summer was retreating like a salty tide that claims each seashell back with each crashing wave. I didn't want this moment to end, so I lingered, hoping that I could bottle this feeling.
Griffin had football on in the background and I could hear the muted cheers of the crowd on television. I added the last piece of chicken to the clean skillet and continued cooking.
The purpose of this vignette isn't to slow you down from getting to what you really want, the recipe. Instead, the meaning behind this short story is to offer up some wisdom and show what can happen when you reset and capture your evening with your presence.
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup minced shallots (about 2 large)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup good-quality dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups baby spinach
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 lemon, cut into 4 wedges, for serving
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with pepper and 2 teaspoons of the salt. Dredge the flour, shaking off any excess. Working in batches as needed, place the chicken in the skillet and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate to cool and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium and melt the butter in the same skillet. Add the shallots and garlic saute, stirring often, until just softened, about 2 minutes. Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Let simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the cream and cook, stirring often, until the mixture can coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 8 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the spinach and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Stir until the spinach is wilted.
Cut the chicken against the grain into diagonal strips 1 inch wide, 2 to 3 inches long, and return to the skillet. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with the lemon wedges.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
Makes 4 servings
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