This blog needs more recipes, says my journalista friend Vivian Moreau. I could ignore her, but she has a master’s degree from one of Canada’s premier journalism schools, so on that count, I will heed her advice.
Cooking in a foreign country, even one as friendly as Switzerland, has its challenges. For one thing, Montreal Steak Spice is nowhere to be found. Same for Shake’n Bake. There is no salted butter on the store shelves or low-fat cooking sprays. And then there’s my cute little kitchen with its state-of-the-art equipment that outsmarts me still.
Top that with the German/French/Italian and no-English spice, sauce and food labels and you can see that achieving any degree of success is something of a shot in the dark.
Despite all this, Julia Child says I am a fabulous cook. Not that she was speaking of me personally, but of cooks like me generally. Child asserted that great failures marked a great chef, because it proved he/she was trying new things. I grew up with a fantastic chef-Dad who looked down his nose at measuring cups and spoons, and it is he who I emulate in the kitchen, which may explain why my failure-to-success ratio is somewhere around 60-40. By Child’s standards, I’m practically a culinary genius. Never mind that the 40% of my successes have to do with egg dishes and a secret apple crisp recipe known only to my sons and their wives.
But to get back to Vivian, who I hope is still talking to me after I made some perhaps rash remarks about a Canadian political hero of hers, I have decided to play with a few made-up recipes, which I will record here whether they are delicious or disastrous. Here’s the first that I concocted tonight:
Honeyed Pineapple Chicken
- boneless skinless chicken breasts
- honey – creamy or clear, doesn’t matter
- Worcestershire sauce
- fresh pineapple cut into one-inch chunks
- fresh parsley, chopped
- Get the sharpest knife in your kitchen. Lay the chicken breast out flat on a cutting board. Place a palm on top of the chicken, press down and slice the blade horizontally through the chicken breast, so as to make two thin fillets. Cut away from yourself, although to be honest, I forget this safety rule and cut towards myself. Someday, something will go terribly wrong.
- In a frying pan, non-stick preferably, melt butter and salt. There’s no salted butter here, so I shake in a good dose, but if you’re using salted butter, you might need almost no salt. Use as much or as little butter as you like.
- The cooking temperature will depend on your cooktop. I need to jack our European cooktop nearly to its highest setting to get any results, but in a North American stove top I would aim for somewhere between 50-60% heat (a little above medium). In a gas range, go below medium heat.
- When the butter has melted and the pan is hot, sear the chicken breasts.
- Drizzle 1-2 tsp. honey over each piece.
- Add a similar amount of Worcestershire sauce.
- Turn chicken when edges whiten.
- Add pineapple chunks. If the pineapple is fresh and a good one, this will add more juice/moisture to the mix. Excellent. The pineapple I purchased here was not so good, so it added hardly any moisture at all. Boo. Next time, I may use canned pineapple chunks, although this is a heretical move.
- Turn fillets occasionally until the butter/honey/pineapple juice starts reducing (ie. moisture steams away leaving a dark brown base). As the base darkens, turn more often, coating chicken and pineapple chunks in the base.
- Now is a good time to add the chopped parsley.
- When there is a touch of black on the chicken and pineapple, and the chicken is a golden brown, remove from heat.
- Serve with steamed veggies. Add flavour to the veggies (after steaming) by tossing in the frying pan for a minute and coating with reduced sauce.
- Eat. Tell me what you think if you try this recipe.
- Tell me if you think I should not include recipes in this blog. Remember my 60-40 ratio.