Supermarket Grieving & Nut-Crusted Chicken

I used to love going to the grocery store.

As a completely spoiled urban dweller, I got accustomed to the one city block walk (away from the Chicago tourist foot traffic) to my corner Dominick’s. Whenever I was an egg short for the cookie recipe I was already elbow-deep in flour with, there was no problem zipping down the street. When late night blood sugar pangs became too intense to quell with water or handfuls of Crispix, it would be no big thing for Matt to run down and find the exact frozen mousse cups I was craving.

Most critically, whenever the both of us came home lifeless and DTC (Down to Chill a.k.a not visit the treadmill a.k.a. veg the f*** out), it took all of 30 footsteps to grab some ginger ale to mix with our (always on hand) whiskey.

Then, without rhyme, reason or respect for my severe inability to cope with change, Safeway (Dominick’s owner) announced they were pulling all stores out of the Chicago market.

You can imagine my reaction.

Now, Tuesday evenings require an entirely different bus route, a longer walk with the bubby cart and an all around discontentedness with the fact that Jewel-Osco stocks shaving cream at a level that you have to be at least 5’11” to reach,  only carries one lentil varietal and boasts a produce department the size of Rooney Mara’s pinky toe.

In a few weeks, once the Whole Foods opens up in Dominick’s old space, I’m sure Jewel will seem like an island of realism and respite from the flock of coconut water-drinking, vegan pizza-eating youths that materialize down the block.

For now, though, I’ll be here, cooking chicken and whining.

Pecan/Panko Chicken
Makes 3-4 servings. Adapted from Bon Appétit. 

4 boneless chicken breasts (on the thin side or halved)
1 c panko breadcrumbs
1 c pecans, finely chopped
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) butter, divided
1/4 c minced shallots
3/4 c low salt chicken broth (the butter makes up for the lack of full sodium, promise)

Preheat your oven to 400º. Defrost your breasts if need be, then sprinkle them with salt and pepper (paprika, onion or garlic powder would be very appropriate additions here as well.) On a plate, blend the panko and pecans together until the mixture starts to morph into a mirage of a beautiful St. Lucian beach. Promptly return to reality where realize you’re in Chicago and grasp the fact that this is what people mean when they talk about hell freezing over.

Melt four tbsp of your butter in an oven-safe skillet over med-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and brush the breasts with that golden sauce. Dredge the chicken in your pecan-panko sand and place in the skillet over medium high heat again.

Sautee the chicken for about 2 minutes or until the bottom side is brown, then flip the breasts and place the skillet in the (now pre-heated) oven. Bake the chicken until cooked, around 18 minutes depending on the thickness. Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the chicken to a new plate.

Get that skillet back on the stove, scooping out any crumbs from the breading. Add the last 2 tbsp of butter plus the shallots, sautéing over med-high heat for 1 minute. Add the low-salt broth, bringing the mixture to a simmer and then reducing, another couple minutes or so. Season the sauce with anything you feel it needs, then spoon it over that gorgeous white meat.


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