One-dish dinner with versatility

Because even on the best of days my life is too crazy for my liking, I’m a big believer in versatility in the kitchen.

For me, that means that any recipe that calls for exacting measurements or particular ingredients isn’t going to happen, especially on weeknights.

Pastas, for example. I do get it – some pasta varieties work better with certain sauces or toppings. But if I want carbonara on a Wednesday and all I have are spirals, am I going to find another recipe or – even more ludicrously – run to the store to get spaghetti? Don’t think so.

Same for ground meat. I know that not all ground meat is the same. Fat content, texture and taste can vary wildly between different cuts and grades of the same animal, never mind swapping species entirely. But I certainly won’t forgo meatballs or burgers just because all I have is ground bison or turkey when my recipe calls for beef.

And it was with that mindset that I created this easy recipe for sautéed chicken with a creamy mushroom sauce.

I happened to have an assortment of chicken pieces in the refrigerator – some legs, some boneless, skinless breasts, a thigh. I tossed them in a pan with olive oil and garlic and after a few minutes of browning tossed in some wine and beef broth. Yes, chicken broth would have been better. But beef was already open.

After the chicken was cooked, I yanked it out of the pan and added some low-fat sour cream (yogurt or heavy cream would work fine, too) to create an amazing pan sauce. Serve it with brown rice or noodles and you have a healthy, one-dish dinner on the table in about 25 minutes.

Creamy Mushroom Skillet Chicken

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

8-ounces sliced white button mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/4 pounds chicken (breasts, legs, thighs or a mix)

2 cups chicken broth

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/4 cup cool water

2/3 cup low- or no-fat sour cream

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, mushrooms and garlic, then sauté for 4 minutes.

Add the chicken and cook, turning to brown evenly, for 4 minutes. Stir the onions and mushrooms as needed to prevent burning.

Add the chicken broth and thyme, bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to simmer. Partially cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the chicken reads 165 F at the thickest part. Check the liquid level now and again and add additional broth as needed.

Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Return the skillet to medium heat. Remove the thyme stems.

In a small glass, mix together the cornstarch and water. Add to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the sour cream. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the chicken over rice or pasta. Spoon the creamy mushroom sauce over it.

Yield: 4 servings

Approximate nutrition per serving : 293 calories, 11 grams fat (4 grams saturated, 33 percent fat calories), 37 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrate, 103 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram dietary fiber, 583 milligrams sodium.

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