Need a yummy and comforting dinner plan for tonight? Husband and I were hungry this past Sunday, and since we don't shop on Sundays, we had to work with what we had on hand. Because he likes to cook meats, and because I like to cook up things like sauces, this is what we made.
If you keep chicken, mushrooms, and rice on hand, you are set to make this dinner right away! I mean, you also need to have milk and flour. And spices. And maybe some chicken stock (but not necessarily). And olive oil... But that's it!
Mmmm, white gravy. Okay, I know some people don't like mushrooms. I'm not sure I can quite understand them. Is it the texture? The taste? Those happen to be two things I love about mushrooms! They add a certain earthiness to meals, and if you can get them properly sauteed, with that rim of deep brown? Forget about it!
We used chicken thighs. Here's the thing about chicken thighs. They're about 80% more flavorful than breasts, but all that flavor is coming from the considerable amount of fat in that area of the chicken (hey, chickens, they're just like us, right? Or me, at least.) So if you're counting calories, it might be smarter to go the breast route. But, I'd say to be sure to pound them out flatter and season them well. You'll need a little olive oil to cook them.
Seared Chicken with Mushroom Gravy
Serves 2-4 (depending on how hungry you are)
1 c. Rice
2 c. Chicken stock or water
6 Crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 c. Milk (I used whole)
2 T. Flour
4 Chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
Salt & Pepper
Pour chicken stock or water, and rice, into a pot and set over high heat until it comes to a boil. Then cover and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until rice absorbs liquid.
Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees. Season chicken thighs well with salt, pepper, and thyme. Sear them in a large pan over medium-high heat, about 3-5 minutes per side, until you get a nice golden crisp on the outside. Transfer them to a baking sheet, and cook through in the oven. It shouldn't take too long to finish them up.
Back in the pan over medium heat, add a couple tablespoons olive oil, and the mushrooms. (You may need to cook them in two batches. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan, or else the mushrooms will steam rather than saute.) Season well with salt and pepper, and saute until the edges are golden brown. While you saute, if the mushrooms drink up all the olive oil and look dry, drizzle a bit more over the top and keep cooking. Once browned, put half the mushrooms on a plate, and keep the other half in the pan.
Scoot the mushrooms to the side of the pan, and on the other side (tilt pan a little if necessary), add a tablespoon of oil and the flour. Combine with a fork until a paste is formed and cook for about 30 seconds. Pour in the milk slowly and mix to combine. Add a pinch of nutmeg, and a bit more salt. Let milk come to a simmer and thicken up to a good gravy consistency. This should take just 3-5 minutes of cooking.*
Now you're ready to assemble! We like bowls in our house. Put a serving of rice in the bottom, your seared chicken on top, and spoon the gravy over top. Finish with the reserved sauteed mushrooms and a crack of pepper. I'd also suggest a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley if you have it!
*If milk does not thicken, you can use a cornstarch slurry. Mix 1 T. corn starch well with 1/4 cup cold water; pour a spoonful into gravy and let cook for a minute. If it doesn't begin to thicken, add just a bit more. You don't want to pour it all in at once or it will turn into a thick gloopy mess!