The centerpiece of this dinner comes from Mark Bittman (the New York Times' "The Minimalist"). It's called 15-Minute Fried Herbed Chicken. Now, you know traditional fried chicken is quite the production and not something I want to be doing on a Sunday night (or maybe not ever). So Bittman's 15 minute version sounded very inviting. And, I loved the fact that he recommends using boneless, skinless thighs (one of my favorite parts). You can use breasts, but this will be juicier and tastier with thighs. This so simple - you throw almost everything into the food processor, whip it up with a little olive oil to make a paste, rub the puree onto the chicken, dredge in flour, and voila, you're ready to fry. The thighs cook for about 8-10 minutes in 1/4" of olive oil. The only change I would make to Bittman's recipe would be to salt and pepper the chicken before slathering on the paste. This chicken is tender on the inside and deliciously crispy on the outside (hmmm...just like fried chicken...imagine that).
While I was frying the chicken, I thought, "what would be a nice accompaniment to the chicken?" To go along with my simple, homey meal, the obvious answer was sauteed spinach and some buttered orzo. The only thing missing was a salad but I just couldn't get to that - oh well. I think a nice Pinot Noir would go great with this if you are so inclined. Another nice thing about this chicken is that you can serve it hot right out of the pan or at room temp so it would be a good make-ahead dish. Oooh, I also just thought that the leftovers would make a fabulous lunch the next day - maybe on a nice semolina roll with some arugula and a little fresh mozzarella?
I realize this post is probably coming too late for your Sunday Night Supper (unless you are on the West Coast), but there's always next week. In fact, this recipe is so quick and easy, you could even make it during the week - how about that? Thanks, Bittman.
15-Minute Fried Herb Chicken
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1-2 TB mixed fresh herbs, like tarragon and sage
2 TB tahini or peanut butter (I used tahini)
1/4 C olive oil (more for frying)
Flour for dredging
6 bonless, skinless chicken thighs or 4 half-breasts
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
Lemon wedges for serving
1. In a blender or the container of a food processor, combine the onion, herbs, and tahini. As you puree the mixture, slowly add just enough olive oil through the feed tube to make a thick, smooth paste; do not let it get too thin.
2. Put flour in a shallow bowl. Place chicken in another bowl. Rub pureed mixture over chicken, then dredge each piece in flour. Gently shake off any excess flour, coat again with paste and dredge once more in flour.
3. Heat 1/4 inch olive oil in a skillet; when it is hot, fry chicken for about 4 minutes each side, until well browned and cooked through; it will take longer if you use chicken with the bone in. Garnish with parsley and serve hot or warm, with lemon wedges. Serves 4.