The Food Network magazine came on the scene in 2008 and created quite a splash. Its initial goal was to sell 300,000 copies. In short order, it had over 1,000,000 readers a month. Its celebrity chefs grace each cover like rock stars. Its success may lie in the fact that there’s nothing earth-shattering or difficult about any of its recipes. Unlike Fine Cooking, which deep dives into a subject and invites creativity with articles about customizing meatloaf and creating one’s own flavor profiles, Food Network could be called “Recipes for Dummies”. The only challenge to its reader-cooks is to get dinner on the table with as little fuss as possible. Now don’t for minute think that I don’t subscribe to the principle of making things that are easily replicated by our readers. It’s just that in my heart, I believe that Food Network Magazine’s success killed off a magazine that was far and away a more comprehensive look at food and cooking and the techniques for doing it well.
The magazine was the late, lamented Gourmet, which ceased publication with its November 2009 issue. Its editor, Ruth Reichl, was as shocked as the rest of us. Still, Ruth acknowledged that Gourmet just could not attract the advertisers essential to keeping the presses running. And a huge number of those ad dollars were channeled right over to Food Network Magazine. Gone were the single-city issues that took you to Paris, Rome and San Francisco. We still cling to these years after they were published. In fact, the food itinerary for our trip to Montreal, was mapped with the guidance of the March 2006 issue. Gourmet captured the city with such depth that even 5 years later, its recommendations are still spot on. So don’t think I have it in for Food Network Magazine. It’s just that I still think there was room in the world for both Food Network’s weeknight parade of easy meals and for Gourmet’s marvelous culinary journeys that landed in your mailbox once a month ever since I can remember.
Sorry for the rant. Now on to the main event. This lovely chicken dish is something of an anomaly because it doesn’t have a celebrity chef’s name attached to it. Instead this is something that the kitchens of the magazine created. It’s a snap to make. You can use the recipe’s recommended Chicken cutlets. But I preferred using half breasts which I pounded to about ½ inch thickness. The breasts provided the perfect bed for the delicious vegetables in their creamy sauce. I got a kick out of the name of this recipe. “Creamy Mushrooms” indeed! It’s really Mushrooms, Scallions and Peas in a cream sauce but am I wrong in thinking that making a cream sauce would scare off half of Food Network’s home cooks? Don’t let this scare you. It’s a very easy recipe and comes to together in that magic number “under 30 minutes”. Here’s the recipe:
Recipe for Chicken with Creamy Mushrooms and Snap Peas from Food Network magazine
4 chicken cutlets (about 1 1/4 pounds), patted dry
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
All-purpose flour, for dredging
2 scallions, thinly sliced
8 ounces mushrooms (button, cremini, shiitake or a combination), quartered
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups sugar snap peas, stemmed and halved lengthwise
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Dredge 2 chicken cutlets in flour, shake off any excess and place in the skillet. Cook until golden, about 1 1/2 minutes per side; transfer to a baking dish. Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the other 2 chicken cutlets. Cover the dish loosely with foil; place in the oven while you prepare the vegetables.
Add the butter to the hot skillet, then add the scallions and mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms brown, about 4 minutes. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and boil until the sauce thickens slightly, 3 to 4 more minutes. Stir in the snap peas and heat through; season with salt and pepper. Serve the chicken topped with the creamy vegetables.