That little phrase has been the supplier for many a giggle between my sister and me. Any time I ask her what she’s cooking for dinner, without fail her response ends with “ya know, just like mom used to make.” I’m positive she says it to drive me to the nearest noose, but I can’t help but find it endearing. Tonight’s dinner is in fact one that comes from my childhood. A recipe my mom had in heavy rotation during the days of the Cosby Show and Blossom on Prime Time TV. Last week when my mom emailed the recipe to me, I noticed that at the very end there was a note saying *From Arkansas Magazine, 1985. WOW. Awesome. This recipe actually comes from an old restaurant in Little Rock called the Café. I’ve never been, and I don’t think it still exists, but tonight I brought it back to life with their signature dish, Café chicken. Traditionally stuffed with sauerkraut and shredded mozzarella, I took the dish and localized and modernized it a tad, without taking away any of the essence. I used fresh mozzarella and added spinach for color. While it calls for A-1 sauce for the glaze, I substituted a local bbq sauce, Arthur Bryants. Did I just hear drool drop from your face?
Even if this isn’t exactly how mom used to make it, I think it would make her proud. And it gives my sister another excuse to use the phrase.
Café Chicken with Sauteed Broccolini:
What it took for 2:
* 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
* 4 Tbs. sauerkraut (I used canned)
* 4 Tbs. fresh mozzarella
* ½ cup baby spinach
* 1 Tbs. melted butter
* sprinkle of smoked paprika
* ¼ cup honey
* ¼ cup local bbq sauce (or A-1 – whatever you prefer!)
* ½ pound broccolini
* 1 tbs. exra virgin olive oil
* juice and zest from ½ a lemon
* coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat your oven to 400.
To start, tenderize the chicken by laying it between two sheets of plastic wrap and pounding it out thinly. Remove plastic wrap. Place 2 Tbs. each of the sauerkraut and cheese in the center of each chicken breast, followed by a layer of spinach. Roll up and secure with toothpicks. Place chicken in a shallow roasting pan and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with smoked paprika. If you have regular paprika or even sweet, that’s fine. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes.
While it’s baking, mix together the honey and bbq sauce in a small bowl. Set glaze aside.
Remove foil after 35 or so minutes and brush the chicken with the glaze. Bake, uncovered for 10 more minutes. Serve with sautéed broccolini.
Oh yeah, the broccolini. I almost forgot. During the last 10 minutes of baking, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the broccolini and sauté until slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and spritz with lemon. See there? Just like mom used to make. Kind of.