Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chicken and Green Beans in Italian Dressing - Revisited

This was a staple in my house growing up.   Sous Chef Brian's house too.   We both grew up with similar genres of food, but they were different.  His mom would put ground beef into Kraft Mac and Cheese, and my mom would put muenster and teriyaki sauce on steak.  But they both would cook chicken breasts in a bottle of Italian dressing, and serve it with green beans over rice. 

I guess because we both were so familiar with it - and I'm not trying to detract from it, we both really liked it, this was a staple in the early days of eating together.   When we were first living in a house with a dozen other people out in the woods, I'd make the foods I grew up with and the foods he grew up with, and cakes.   Terrible, brightly-colored, boxed and frosted cakes.   One roommate once said to me, "I didn't realize you liked dessert so much," and I didn't - I just thought that that's what I was supposed to do.  Make cakes.   There was a lot of meatloaf back then.   Sous Chef Brian misses the meatloaf. 

So the other day, we were doing some menu planning and Sous Chef Brian said, "How about chicken in Italian dressing," and I got all self-righteous and horrified for a second, and then I realized it could be awesome. 

So let's start with some dressing.  Every step of this could be improved with fresh herbs, and you can put bigger pieces (like a stick of rosemary, for example) in there and just let it chill in the jar.  I used all dried herbs today, plus fresh onion and garlic.  Make your own substitutions.   

I used less than a third of this recipe for dinner, so if you're just making it for the dish, make less, but if you're making it to keep as salad dressing, as I am, follow along.  This is a simple dressing - just oil and vinegar and spices.  You could and should totally mix in a third liquid for your salad, to reduce the total amount of oil you top your greens with, and also to add flavor.   Mustard?  Orange juice?   Tequila?  Get creative with the leftovers, but for now, do this.

Start with a jar, or something else with a lid you can shake.   Sure, you can make dressing with a whisk or in a blender, but I like to shake it - saves adding to the piles of dishes and you know it's mixed.

Add in red wine vinegar.   You could go herbs first, but they might clump, so I like to add them to the vinegar.  I started with a cup, but I'll add a couple more tablespoons later.

and this is why I hoard jars 
Then get crazy with the dried herbs.   A tablespoon each of parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, tarragon and basil.  Two tablespoons of oregano and red pepper flakes.  A half teaspoon salt and a quarter teaspoon sugar.  Whatever else you think fits. 

 And give it a shake.

Then add the oil.  One and 2/3 cups.   Any standard recipe says 2:1 oil to vinegar, but I think you're losing some flavor to fat at that point.  Also add a couple tablespoons of additional vinegar.  

Add some legitimate onion and garlic.   I grated the onion in.  I added about a teaspoon and wanted way more.  Ideally, I think I want two tablespoons of onion.

looks precarious, but worked 
 And three cloves of garlic.   Grate it to a nub, and throw the nub in too.

 Then shake to mix.  Shake a lot.

Throw that in the fridge.  If you made this in advance, the flavor would have a bit more time to develop, but I was working in the present.

Cut chicken into cubes.  Cover in dressing, like 1/3 cup or so, and cook until cooked.


Remove the chicken, and add some onion slices, green beans (I gave mine a quick steam first) and roasted red peppers.  Very easy to roast your own red peppers over a gas burner, but I used a jar.  Add some garlic too - I was out, but you'll do better.

Get a pot of water going for orzo.  Or rice or whatever.  Let it cook a bit (maybe 20 minutes?) until the beans are no longer super firm.  Add the chicken back in.  Get the chicken warmed back up, and add the orzo and another tablespoon or two of dressing.  You don't want it swimming in oil, but you want everything coated.

Dish it out and call it a meal.  This made four servings for us - two dinners and two lunches.   It tastes like it'd be good cold, so I'll do it that way for lunch.

Are there recipes you grew up with that you've altered and use now?  Did you ever make a cake a week because you thought you were supposed to?  Let me know about it.

print recipe

Italian Dressing
Flexible dressing for salads or marinades
  • 1 1/3 cups divided red wine vinegar
  • 1 2/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
Always ok to sub fresh spices for my dried spices!Put 1 cup red wine vinegar in a jar with a lid. Add herbs. Shake. Add oil and remaining vinegar. Shake. Taste. Adjust as necessary. Refrigerate. Shake before using.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: about 4 cups

print recipe

Chicken and Green Beans in Italian Dressing
Remake of a dish many of us grew up with
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 3/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Italian dressing
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked orzo or other small pasta
Saute chicken in 1/4 cup of salad dressing until cooked through. Remove chicken, add green beans, onions, garlic and red pepper to the pan. Saute until beans are a bit less bright and crunchy (about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add chicken and orzo to pan, with additional dressing (1 - 2 tablespoons) and toss to coat
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings

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