In Week Three of the Summer Cookbook Club, I hit a speed bump. Nothing major, but I chose not to edit the bump out and instead turn it into a teachable moment for all of us.
This week, the recipes were Crispy Chicken with Lemon Orzo from Modern Comfort Food. These are technically two recipes that can stand alone, but they were designed to be served together as an easy meal, and so that is what I did.
Let’s start with what went right. I was able to find boneless, skin-on chicken breasts in my grocery store, but my hunch is these are not readily available everywhere. The instructions said to cut off the tenderloin from the breast, but I did not see anything that fit that descriptions, so I carried on without worrying about it.
This recipe is a delight in that it goes quickly from groceries to finished dish rather swiftly, making it a perfect candidate for weeknight meals. However, because the chicken cooks in a large cast iron skillet without moving, this recipe is not very scaleable. There simply isn’t room in the pan for more chicken.
Moving on to what went awry, let’s talk about the butter. Ina calls for European butter which has a lower water content, making it extra buttery and luxurious and yielding a cracklier crust and better browning as a result. I easily found European butter in my grocery store and even purchased two brands to see if there was any distinct difference. As I began to cook the recipe (and recording the video), I kept thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot of butter.” I didn’t question it because Ina is not shy with butter, and I trust that if a recipe calls for a lot of butter, it is with good reason.
I clipped along, cooking my chicken, continuing to marvel at the copious pools of butter in my pan, when I began to wonder if I had made a mistake. Right before the chicken was finished cooking, I took a closer look at the recipe and discovered that instead of using a total of nine tablespoons of butter I had used nine ounces. Nine ounces of butter is twice as much butter as the recipe calls for, and as it turns out, I was not wrong to comment on the quantity of butter in my pan.
With no way to rectify the situation at this point, and without the time or desire to redo anything, I decided to embrace the mistake, learn from it, and serve a particularly buttery version of Crispy Chicken with Lemon Orzo.
The result? Lots of leftover butter in the pan, but as far as I can tell, the finished dish did not suffer.
You would be hard-pressed to find a simpler, more straight-forward side dish for a weeknight chicken dinner. The fresh herby flavors of the orzo compliment the buttery chicken quite nicely, and the lemon juice vinaigrette hits all the perfect notes for me.
My only note for this recipe is to double it next time, as we all wished there was more by the end. I also think this would make delicious leftovers, served cold with the chicken cubed and perhaps the addition of some sliced cherry tomatoes or cucumbers.
WHAT I LEARNED.
If it’s not obvious, I learned a lesson about carefully reading ingredient quantities as well as a reminder of the difference between tablespoons and ounces when it comes to butter.
Beyond that, I also learned that mistakes happen, and although I would never welcome them, they always teach me something of value. I tend to think that perfect results are the only acceptable outcome, and the truth it, even mistakes can provide points of connection and opportunity to realize it’s all going to be just fine. Burn the toast. Over-season the soup. Under bake the cake. Use twice as much butter…it’s not ideal, but it’s okay. You’re still okay, even if the food is not, and that is the most important lesson of all.
Below is a video summary of this week’s recipes. I hope you enjoy!