Before we left the U.S., I photographed one last dish — pan-seared chicken with toasted almonds — in our beautiful kitchen. It was a swan song to the house we bought two years ago and loved back to life. All around the house, I’d already started purging and organizing all of our belongings into giant plastic tubs, some of which we wouldn’t see again for years.
We’ve been living out of suitcases for over a month now, and already it feels like years since we’ve seen our things. We still have a few more weeks to go of this transient lifestyle, and already I’ve learned two important lessons: first, that it’s totally possible to make do with a lot less than we actually have; and second, that I really miss my stuff.
This pan-seared chicken with toasted almonds swims in a mustard-based pan gravy. I made this dish as an effort to finish up the last remaining parts of our pantry and freezer before we left, including some divine rosemary honey mustard straight from the mustard taps at Maille mustard’s New York store. Did you know that mustard can come from a tap, like a freshly poured pint of beer? If there’s life after death, I’d like to live in a world where all my mustard is dispensed this way.
The rosemary honey mustard is just slightly sweet — not at all like the gooey honey mustards typically found accompanying chicken fingers at neighborhood joints that will remain unnamed. There’s still a strong tang of mustard that shines through, and the rosemary adds a fragrant earthiness. It’s a stellar mustard, one that is good enough to eat with a spoon by itself. Trust me on this one. I did it. A lot.
The pan-seared chicken with toasted almonds I made is easy enough that really you could make chicken breasts this way as the beginning of any number of dishes. The pan gravy is also deceptively simple.
Of course, I have the added challenge/blessing of having children swirling around me while I’m cooking and photographing. Meimei loves to take “alternative” angle shots of my dishes with her camera. (PS – you can see the accumulating mess of moving behind her, which is basically how we lived the last few weeks in our house.)
Sigh. Looking at these pictures makes me yearn to be settled. We’ll get there. All in due time.
Many thanks to my friends at Maille mustard for the rosemary honey mustard sample; I was not otherwise paid or compensated for this post.
- 4 chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise into thin filets
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 1.5 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (I used Maille's rosemary honey mustard, but any mustard would do)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (plus more, if needed)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Heat a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Add the almonds, stirring constantly to make sure the almonds don't burn, and toast them until they are golden-brown and crispy. Remove the almonds and set aside.
- Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry with paper towels. Make sure the chicken is all of a relatively even thickness; if they're not, place the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a rolling pin gently just to even out the thickness.
- Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering, then add the chicken breasts. Don't crowd the pan (fry in batches if necessary). Cook the chicken breasts and turn after 4-5 minutes, cooking another 4-5 minutes until the juices run clear when the chicken is sliced into. Remove chicken from the plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Reduce the heat to medium/medium low and add the butter and flour, scraping up the browned bits of chicken remaining in the pan as you swirl your spatula around. Cook this mixture for 1-2 minutes, then remove the pan from heat and add the chicken stock in a slow and steady stream, stirring vigorously to make sure you don't get any lumps.
- Swirl in the mustard and return the pan to heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat, allowing the mixture to reduce a little. Add the almonds and pour the entire mixture over the chicken. Serve immediately.