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Mediterranean Chicken

Last night Ms. Cooking Dude said that this was the best dinner of the year! I was very glad to hear that, especially since took so little time and cooked all in one skillet.

This dish is also sometimes called Chicken Primavera, since fresh veggies in the springtime are usually used. But we're in Southern California, it's 82 degrees outside, and it is early November. Who needs Spring for fresh vegetables?

You can and should modify these instructions (not really a recipe) depending on what veggies you have on hand. Bell peppers, onion, and Kalamata olives garnished with a crumbly cheese make it Mediterranean, but I can't imagine very many combinations that wouldn't be good.

I started with a boneless, skinless chicken breast out of the freezer. We get those in giant bags from Costco, and always having them on hand really makes it easy to come up with a dinner on the spur of the moment. See, I have decided to collect my chicken recipes together into a Cooking Dude Chicken Cookbook, and I needed some new ones to add to the recipes I already have. We're going to eat a variety of chicken for the next several days!

Here's what I used for this dish. The breast I used was plenty big for two people, but you might need two smaller ones. I also used one potato, 1/2 each onion and the peppers, and two tomatoes. You should adjust everything according to how many you need to feed. You might also not be able to make this a one-skillet dinner if you need to cook the chicken and vegetables separately. Another option is to do the whole thing in a roasting pan in the oven. If there's one thing the Cooking Dude is trying to get you to do is to overcome the fear of improvising.

Boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt, lemon pepper, paprika
Russet potato
Green bell pepper
Red bell pepper
Yellow bell pepper
Sweet brown onion
Roma tomatoes
Kalamata pitted olives
Crumbled blue cheese

Anyhow, I put the frozen breast into a zip loc bag and immersed it in hot water in the sink for about 30 minutes. Obviously you can skip this step if you have fresh chicken. And while I'm mentioning it, why not make this with a bone-in thigh, if that's what you like? You'll just have to cook the chicken a little longer before you add the veggies.

To avoid overcooking the thinner parts of the breast meat, I used a mallet to beat the thicker part to match the thinner part of the meat so it was relatively uniform in thickness. I did the pounding while the meat was still in the plastic bag to keep things neat. Don't have a mallet? I remember my mom and grandmom tenderizing meat by pounding it with the edge of a plate. See, you are surrounded by tools you didn't know you had.

Rinse off the chicken and pat it dry with a paper towel. Season it, if you want, on both sides with paprika, salt, and lemon pepper. Then while it sits and brines a little, get the veggies ready.

The potato is not going to cook as fast as everything else, so put it in the microwave for three or four minutes to give it a head start. Let it cool while chopping the other things, and then cut it into chunks as well.

Now you've got everything ready.

Now coat the skillet with olive oil spray, or whatever kind of oil you prefer. When it gets hot enough for water droplets to dance around and sizzle, put the chicken in the center and let it start browning. Arrange the veggies around the edge of the chicken. Don't move the chicken for several minutes, so it will brown nicely without sticking to the pan.

After three or four minutes, check to see that the chicken has browned, and turn it over. You should also give the vegetables a stir. Now it should look like the photo above.

Turn the heat down to low, and cover the skillet with a lid. After another five or six minutes the chicken will be done, and the veggies ready.

Serve the dinner with some crumbly cheese like feta or blue cheese scattered over the top. Notice that we did this dish without any flavorings or seasonings except for that on the chicken. You'll be surprised at the flavor -- and it's a very healthful dish, too!


Copyright John P. Choisser - CookingDude.com 2005-2014