Pan-fried chicken breast

Friends, I think tonight may have been the first time in my entire life where I walked into the kitchen and felt confident at every single step of the way when I was cooking. This is a major milestone for me.

As I mentioned before, my next Rouxbe lesson was on pan frying. And with my brand-new All-Clad 12″ stainless steel frying pan, I was up for the challenge.

First up: the water test to tell when the pan is ready for the oil. This is probably the coolest thing ever. The idea is that you add a small amount of water (maybe 1/8 tsp) every 15 seconds or so, and it’ll behave differently as the pan heats up. In a cold pan, it’ll just sit there. Eventually, it starts bubbling and evaporating. Sooner or later, it’ll bubble but spawn off tiny beads. And when it’s the perfect temperature, the water will form one mercury-like bead and bounce around the edge of the pan. Fun fact: my new pan takes about 7-8 minutes to heat up on medium heat, using my large burner. Which is much longer than I would have guessed, had I not known about the water test.

I got to feel knowledgeable when Marc was standing next to me and I was doing the water test on the heating-up pan. He saw the water evaporating and said, “I guess that means it’s too hot?” And I was able to say, “Nope! Much too cold!”

I was also able to inform him that, assuming the pan is hot enough, a sticking ingredient will eventually un-stick itself once it’s cooked for a few minutes, which he did not know and which I had not known before I took this module.

I had a few moments where I was worried my chicken breast medallions weren’t cooked through enough, but it all worked out very well in the end. If I do anything differently, it might be to leave them just a little bit longer so they brown more. They were nicely caramelized, but they could have been even more nicely caramelized. Also, one of these days I’ll have to learn how to make a pan sauce.

Supper was simple but delicious: the last of the couscous-with-vegetables I made for my knife skills practice, the roast carrots I made this afternoon (yes, this means that between the two of us, we’ve eaten almost an entire 2-lb bag of carrots just today), and the pan-fried chicken breast with a little lemon juice squeezed over top. Look, I made MEAT ™ for my man! Now he won’t need to die from eating only vegetables! Next lesson: pan-fried BEEF ™, which is even more meat-like than MEAT ™. Because I care.

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