There is definitely something to be said for winter food… And here in Alaska we say it a lot. When you need warmth and succor nothing quite does the trick like a hearty stew glistening with red wine gravy. Although a close second would be Italian sausage bubbling in tomato sauce piled high atop cheesy polenta. My stomach seems to be on a roll…Somewhere in the top five is chicken and dumplings.(reminder: I am from the midwest and chicken and dumplings means hefty noodles- not fluffy biscuit type drop dumplings. If that offends you-start you own blog… Those have their place, I’m sure but they do not belong in the upper pantheon of the comfort food rotation. Warmth inducing as it may be, there is a danger of coziness to blending into stodginess. The closeness of an eiderdown can move from warm and soothing to muffling. When you feel your palate deadening from a surfeit of rich food, action must be taken. Nothing will do the trick quite like cleansing lift of citrus.
I ran out of lemons the other day… I know I am shocked too… Since a trip to Costco is an all day endeavor for me, I had to make do. I emptied the cabinets, while i was trying to decide which vinegar to use to spring my tastebuds from their seasonal doldrums. A container of juice packed grapefruit segments rolled off of the counter. Even I,heathen that I am, recognize a gift from the almighty when it falls literally at my feet.
The result was chicken breasts with sauteed grapefruit. It literally looks like jewels on your plate and sends your tastebuds into hand stands.
Two whole chicken breasts- cut into thin cutlets (lay your hand flat- do you hear me FLAT on top of the chicken and work your knife through the meat, parallel to your hand. Cut each breast in half longwise and then do the same to each half. Very cold chicken will make this process a bit easier. Go slow. Now season your escallops with salt and white pepper- you can use black, but it will not be as pretty. Part of the point of pink food is prettiness. Swirl a pat of butter around a saute’ pan. NO cast iron- you will be making a delicious acidic pan sauce and the citrus will not only leach iron ito your sauce-it will literally taste rusty- it will pit and damage your pans… You have been warned. Heed me, for I know of whence I speak. I may or may not have(I totally did) destroyed a cast iron pan that had probably accompanied a female antecedent of mine on a covered wagon. A batch of balsamic vinegar glazed veal chops did what hailstorms, scurvy and age failed to do.
Give your chicken a quick saute’- you want it golden and brown… Set it aside, you may need to do this in batches- remember we never crowd the pan… A crowded pan will not cook that much faster than two batches will, and it will give you rubbery seized up poached, chicken. Not what we are aiming for here. Now into the pan juices add the grapefruit juice and cook down until its syrupy. Add a little dollop of heavy cream and swirl your pan around like the superstar chef you are…. Return the chicken and the grapefruit segments and make sure everything is warm all the way through- over low heat. Unusually for me, i find that rice or potatoes aren’t the best accompaniment. Oh pick your jaw up- you’ll catch flies like that……. The best way to proceed is to lay it on a bed of fresh spinach. The heat will gently cook the spinach. Now serve forth, pretty as a preppy’s spring break in Palm Springs.