Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Southwest Chicken on Zucchini and Mushrooms

It was time for chicken again and I was in a Southwest mood. We both felt like a light meal so I thought just chicken, potatoes and a little salad.  I got the chicken on the BBQ and potatoes on the stove then I washed and tore up some lettuce into the spinner.  For dressing I started with about a tablespoon of oil. I use 60/40 rice oil/olive oil because I find pure extra virgin olive oil too strong a flavor. To that I added about 1 1/2 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar, a little salt and some pepper. Whisked that up and tossed the lettuce in it.  My grocery store only has Tosca white balsamic vinegar which I find a little too sweet.  I'll look for a more expensive brand first and if that's not better I'll try a cheaper one.  About ten percent of the time I like the cheaper one best.

The dressing was a bit single note so I decided to add some parmesan cheese.  I also realized that I would be standing around for 15 minutes with nothing to do while things cooked so I decided to make zucchini and mushrooms as well. I put a couple of plates in the oven to warm while a frying pan heated on the stove.  I quickly sliced up a zucchini a little thicker than an eighth of an inch and put it in the pan with a little butter and salt.  I had it on heat 7/10 and as soon as I had good color I turned them over. When they were done I took them out of the pan and put in the mushrooms. When they had a good sear both sides I put back the zucchini, tossed and turned the heat down to 1. I mashed the potatoes and got the chicken off the BBQ then shredded some parmesan for the salad.

I tossed the parmesan in the salad and tasted it, much better. I got the plates out and dolloped mashed potato on both. I decided to plate the chicken on top of the zucchini mushroom combo so I dished the veggies, sliced the chicken and placed it atop the zucchini mushrooms. It looked a little better than the photo seems to show or maybe it was the smell wafting up that made my mouth water.  In any case, the juice from the chicken carried the Southwest spice down to the vegetables and the flavor was amazing. The mashed potatoes were good as always even though I forgot the chives. Maybe just a little sauce or a little crunch is all that separates this dish from a restaurant meal prepared by a team of chefs. The salad was fresh and delicious and took about 2 minutes to prepare so I'll do that again.

The plating is a lot better because the vegetables were cooked to go with the chicken, by chance at first but I finished them knowing how they would be plated. If I had something with a little crunch sprinkled over the chicken and mashed potatoes to tie them together this would have been a sophisticated dish. I had no time to make an addition so I'll have to work faster to take things up to that next level. That's what I like about cooking, I never run out of things to learn.

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