There was a point a month or two ago when I heard or read the word “Einkorn“ about five times in the course of 24 hours. Never heard of it? Neither had I! This, in spite of the fact that the grain is 12,000 years old (shame on us) and, according to The New York Times “pleasingly chewy,” “nutty in flavor,” and suddenly popping up on premiere menus across the country. Sure enough, a few hours after reading this, I tuned into ATK Radio, to hear Christopher Kimball and Bridget Lancaster discussing the grain as though its audience was already up to speed on the stuff, working it into dinner rotations and party menus. At home later, I flipped through a stack of soon-to-be published cookbooks and found “Einkorn berries” in three indexes. Huh, I thought. Are Einkorn berries the new bone broth? Should I try it?
Eh. Maybe next week.
I love a good food trend. I don’t know what I would do or where I would be if kale and quinoa had never entered my family’s life. But the meals and recipes that regularly appear on our dinner table are not the ones that are necessarily trending on instagram. (Please, dear Lord, no more #AvocadoToasts.) In fact — unless it’s Saturday or Sunday, days more conducive to adventure in my opinion — it’s usually the opposite: What’s on our table are usually recipes that I can picture my mother making in my childhood kitchen. The dish you see above is a really good example of that. It’s Pan-fried Chicken with Lemon, the most basic kind. I never tire of it. There are a few differences between her circa ’80s version and mine: I don’t think she ever pounded her chicken breasts to an even thickness, which, as far as I’m concerned is an absolute do-or-die step. Her version required no technical trickery because it was finished off in the oven, drizzled with a little heavy cream. It’s a little less than 12,000 years old, but I’m pretty sure it still qualifies as a classic.
Pan-fried Chicken with Asparagus and Lemon
I love serving this with skillet potatoes (below) which help drink up the lemony sauce, but if you don’t want to go to the trouble of dirtying two extra pots for them, feel free to just serve this with a crusty baguette instead.
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed of woody stems
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
4 chicken breasts (about 2 pounds), pounded to ½-inch thickness, and cut in half so each piece is roughly the size of a playing card (if not in actual shape, then at least surface area)
1/3 cup flour, salted and peppered
juice from one small lemon
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
Set a large platter on the counter near the stovetop.
Add water to a large, deep-sided skillet, and bring to a boil. Add asparagus spears and cook 2 minutes. Using tongs, remove from water and immediately plunge into an ice bath to stop cooking and preserve bright green color. Remove from ice bath and chop into one-inch pieces. Add to your platter. Drain the water from the skillet and set back on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add oil.
Working with one breast at a time, dredge in flour, then add to the skillet. The pan should be hot enough so that the chicken sizzles upon contact. Continue with each breast, flipping each after about 3 minutes a side. Don’t crowd the pan. Once you finish with one breast, remove to the platter, then cook a breast that’s been waiting in the wings.
Once all chicken has been cooked through (they should feel firm to the touch, but not rock hard) and removed to the platter, return the heat to high, then add butter, lemon juice and chicken broth, scraping up any brown bits that might have collected on the surface of the pan. Cook until broth reduces and thickens slightly. turn off heat. At this point taste the sauce. If it’s too lemony, you might think about serving it on the side so the kids can take as little or as much as they want. If it tastes all right to you, drizzle over the entire platter and shower the whole thing with chives.
Quick Skillet Potatoes
Peel six or seven medium sized white or yellow potatoes and dice into 1-inch cubes. Cover with water in a medium pot, add a hefty pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes until potatoes are almost done. Drain. They do not have to be cooked all the way through. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a cast iron skillet and set over medium-high heat. Add potatoes so they are roughly in one layer. Much sizzling should ensue. Let the potatoes brown a bit without touching them for about five minutes. Toss, then after another few minutes, top with sea salt and serve with chicken and asparagus.