This meal was very nostalgic for me. This is the kind of food I grew up eating.
First, baked potatoes. I mean I am sure we all grew up eating them? So easy to make. Healthy. Delicious. Cheap. And the chef is half the person who bakes them and half the person who eats them. Because you have to fluff it, put in the salt, pepper, butter and sour cream.
I have such vivid memories of sitting at the table and drooling over my mom's baked potato. She was the best potato fluffer ever. I would be trying to prepare mine (most likely being pretty lazy about it) and I'd look over at hers and be so jealous. I remember complaining enough that she would sometimes fix mine up for me at the table. Amazing! Made such a difference.
Scot and I have kind of an ongoing joke because I always fluff his for him. It is just how it work with us. I suppose the first couple of times I made him baked potatoes, I knew he hadn't had them before. Or didn't know how to prepare them. Something like that. But, I honestly (secretly) had some moral issues with my fluffing his BP. I had to work hard to learn how to fluff mine! Besides, this is prep work to be done table side by the guest. You know, like corn on the cob, cutting your steak, dressing your burger (I always dress his burgers).
And so, one night at dinner, I didn't do it. I sat down, gave him a naked BP, some butter, sour cream, salt and pepper and I said, "You know, Scot, I can't fluff your baked potato for you forever." And you should have seen the look on his face. It broke his heart. He was like, "well why not?"
Hmm...good question. One I didn't have a good, mature answer for. One pretty solid respond I had was: "Well, when we have kids, I will need to fluff theirs, so you will need to learn how to do it anyways."
"What does that have to do with now?"
Anyways, I still fluff his baked potato.
Moving on...the chicken marengo. This is a dish also so familiar to me from my childhood. While we never had this exact thing and definitely nothing with the word "Marengo" in it, we always ate stuff like this. Meat, with some tomato-y sauce. And I do love this method for cooking chicken. You do a light flour dredge to the chicken, quick saute both sides, remove chicken, add veg, deglaze, add more liquid, re-submerge chicken, simmer. By far the best way to cook a chicken breast. Plus, this is really easy to throw together. And you can change out the ingredients to anything you like.
Wikipedia provided me with a little history of Chicken Marengo. It originated as an Italian dish that Napoleon Bonaparte ate after the Battle of Marengo. Napoleon demanded to have a meal. His chef had to make it on short notice after the battle and didn't have many ingredients to work with. Apparently Napoleon really liked it and, since he won the battle, considered it lucky.
by Melissa d’Arabian via Food Network
3 large chicken cutlets, sliced into thin paillards (slice while partially frozen)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium sweet onion, sliced
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and julienned
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup beef broth
1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon butter
Season the chicken with salt and pepper, to taste, and lightly dredge in flour. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the chicken. Brown on both sides, until nicely golden, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate. In the same pan, add more oil, if needed, along with the onion, mushrooms and peppers and saute until softened and fragrant, but not limp, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the tomato paste and cook a few minutes to cook out the raw flavor. Turn up the heat, and add the wine/wine to deglaze the pan and let it reduce for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the beef broth and tomatoes. Once the mixture begins to bubble, add the browned paillards and any juices from the chicken and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the chicken is warmed through, about 3 minutes. Turn the heat off and stir in the butter. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.
(Servings: 4, Prep time: 10 min., Cook time: 20 min., Difficulty: Easy)
Shanon (taste): 6/10
Scot (taste): 7/10
Dishwashing Effort: 2/5