Thursday, November 6, 2008

Secret Ingredient

I'm going to share with you one of the special ingredients I've seen in most professional kitchens... and a new application for it that I came up with to save time.

You know all those fancy marinades you can buy at the store? Forget them. The marinade of choice in most kitchens I've worked in as the cheapest, orangest, nastiest-looking Italian dressing. Wishbone? Cheaper. Think house brand. It's got all the oil and vinegar you need for a good dressing, the corn syrup to caramelize the meat, and enough spice to make it worthwhile. It works brilliantly.

I rarely have time to marinate chicken breasts, though. Generally, I'm faced with a couple of rock-hard chicken breasts in the freezer and an hour top feed the family. So instead of marinating, I braise. That way I get flavor into those bland chicken breasts while defrosting.

Here's my technique - note that you can use these breasts for just about anything, from salad toppers to pasta ingredients. The sandwiches are just one approach. Follow your muse.

Braised Chicken Breast Sandwiches

4 frozen chicken breasts
1/2 cup cheap Italian dressing
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
4 kaiser rolls
1 tomato, sliced
1 head red leaf lettuce
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
1/2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Mayonnaise

In a large sautee pan, combine chicken stock and dressing. Add bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil. Add frozen chicken breasts, and return liquid to a simmer. The liquid should come up to halfway up the sides of the breasts - if not, add broth or water. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes, turning once. Transfer breasts to a plate; the liquid can be refrigerated and used again if desired. Grill or sear the breasts over medium high heat 3-minutes until browned on each side.

In a small bowl, combine Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Toast the kaiser rolls. Build your sandwiches as follows: bottom bun, mayonnaise, breast, tomato, lettuce, mustard sauce. Serve hot and at once.

Serves 4

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