“My advice to people at home is bronzing rather than blackening,” said Paul Prudhomme. “This avoids the smoke and the risk of handling a red-hot skillet while still achieving an excellent result.”
Prudhomme, one of America’s favorite chefs and the father of blackened redfish, gave me this advice during an interview. His Bronzed Chicken Breasts can cook indoors without smoke and keeps the chicken juicy. The secret is to keep the skillet at the right temperature. The chicken should take 6-7 minutes to cook. If it takes much longer, the skillet is not hot enough. Another hint from Prudhomme is to bring the chicken breasts to room temperature before cooking, creating an even and juicy result.
Use the Cajun spice mixture given in the recipe or 1 tablespoon prepared Cajun spice seasoning mix.
The Spinach Rice Pilaf recipe is easy to make and takes less than 20 minutes.
Nutrition: 456 calories per serving; 23 percent from fat
Wine suggestion: This dish, which is spicy flavorful though not spicy hot, would be wonderful with a rich, white viognier.
Kitchen tools: An electric frying pan can be used instead of a skillet. Keep the temperature at 350 degrees.
Supplies: Cajun spice mixes can be found in the spice section of the supermarket.
To buy: 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, small bottle low-salt tomato juice, 1 package ready-to-eat spinach
Staples: Olive oil, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, garlic powder, dried thyme, long-grain white rice, salt, black peppercorns
BRONZED CHICKEN BREASTS 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons olive oil
Pound chicken breasts flat to about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick with a meat bat or heavy skillet. Mix cayenne pepper, garlic powder, oregano and thyme together. Spoon half onto one side of the chicken breasts, pressing it into the flesh. Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat and add oil. When it is very hot, add the chicken breasts, seasoned side down. Spread remaining spice mixture on top side of chicken. Cook until the underside is bronze in color, 2-3 minutes. Cook second side 3-4 minutes or until cooked through. A meat thermometer should read 170 degrees.
Per serving: 239 calories (34 percent from fat), 9 g fat (1.8 g saturated, 4.6 g monounsaturated), 108 mg cholesterol, 36.4 g protein, 1.7 g carbohydrates, 0.7 g fiber, 199 mg sodium
RICE AND SPINACH PILAF 1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup long-grain white rice
1 cup low-salt tomato juice
1 cup water
2 cups washed, ready-to-eat spinach
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat olive oil in a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add rice and saute 1 minute. Add tomato juice and water. Bring to a simmer, lower heat, cover and gently simmer 15 minutes. If pan becomes dry, add a little more water. Stir in the spinach. It will wilt in the heat of the rice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Per serving: 216 calories (9 percent from fat), 2.7 g fat (0.4 g saturated, 1.8 g monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 5.1 g protein, 43.2 g carbohydrates, 1.8 g fiber, 38 mg sodiumServings: 2 Servings: 2 Linda Gassenheimer is the author of 14 cookbooks, including “The Flavors of the Florida Keys.” Go to dinnerinminutes.com.