Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dilly Chicken & Potato Salad the Easy Way

What cooking method will keep boneless chicken breast from getting too dry and "boiled" potato from getting too mushy? Steaming!

We don't steam things much anymore and often use the microwave instead but microwaving boneless chicken breast often results in something raw in the middle and leathery on the ends. Microwaving a potato removes a good deal of its structural integrity.

For this meal, I steamed both chicken and potato in the same pot for the same amount of time, let them cool, and made a dill-laced main dish salad with moist, not chewy, chicken and potatoes that held together when I stirred in the dressing. Bill said, "You should do this one again!"

Ingredients for two meal-sized servings:
  • 1 boneless chicken breast fillet
  • 1 large new potato
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 Tbl. chopped fresh dill (or one tsp. dry dill)
  • 3 Tbl. honey mustard dressing
  • 3 Tbl. plain yogurt
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Cube the potato.
  2. Optionally, cut the chicken fillet in half or thirds to fit better in the steamer.
  3. Place the chicken and potato pieces in a steamer over water.
  4. Bring the water to a boil and then simmer until the chicken has lost all signs of pink or has reached an internal temperature of 165°F and the potatoes yield to a fork but are not yet mushy.
  5. Remove the potatoes & chicken from the pan and cool in the refrigerator.
  6. Peel, scoop out the seeds, and cut the cucumber into bite sized pieces.
  7. Finely chop the fresh dill.
  8. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and chill.
How long it takes to steam the chicken and potatoes will vary with the size of the pieces. I used fairly large chicken breasts cut in thirds and largish pieces of potato and cooked them for 20 minutes. After the first ten minutes I checked the temperature of the chicken and made sure there was enough water not to worry. You don't want your steamer to boil dry. You may ruin your pot as well as your meal!

Scooping the seeds out of the cucumber serves two purposes. It prevents the cuke from watering down the dressing and it lessens the after dinner eructations (although the latter may just be wishful thinking). Alternatively, use a "burpless" cucumber.

I threw an extra chicken fillet in the steamer so I now have the chicken pre-cooked for another meal. I sense chicken pasta salad in our not-so-distant future!

Chicken Salad on FoodistaPotato Salad on Foodista

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Imprecise & Inexpensive

Two themes predominate in my approach to cooking. 1. Daily cooking of flavorful food need not be a precise art. 2. You can be an adventurous cook on a budget. Cooking and eating should be fun for both cookers and eaters.