Fifteen years ago, I made the first of what would become thousands of meals for my husband, Philippe. Back then, it was our fifth date, and he was visiting my tiny Parisian apartment for the first time, where we planned an evening of binging on episodes of "Friends" on the VCR.
For our date, I wanted to make something special, but also simple. I didn't want to be stuck in the kitchen, worried about executing a complicated, unforgiving dish. I needed something that oozed effortless culinary prowess, but that didn't look like I was trying too hard to impress quite yet. In the words of that show's Monica Geller, I wanted a meal that said, "I'm breezy."
I made a tried-and-true dish I knew I could do with my eyes closed — my 4-step chicken. Four-step chicken is a versatile recipe that can be made with whatever you have in the pantry. First, you dredge and saute the chicken. Next, you saute some veggies. Then you deglaze the pan with some liquid. Finally, you finish up the sauce. Done.
The chicken I made that night was a lemony piccata-style dish, with some added items like mushrooms and artichoke hearts. It was the perfect balance of something a little special, but super easy to manage after a long day of work. This also happens to be a great date night dish because it packs lots of flavor without using onions or garlic.
The version I'm sharing today has an extra ingredient: tangy, creamy low-fat Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is a staple in the healthy kitchen because it is full of protein, yet is relatively low in calories. It's a great stand-in for sour cream and heavy cream, and even just a spoonful of it added to dressings, sauces and soups adds a luscious creaminess that makes me forget I'm eating healthy. And this chicken dish will do just that, for you and your date.
CHICKEN WITH TANGY ARTICHOKE AND MUSHROOM SAUCE
Canned or frozen artichoke hearts are fine in this recipe. Just avoid the marinated variety.
Start to finish: 30 minutes
1 pound thinly-sliced chicken cutlets
Salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons butter, divided
8 ounces mixed or button mushrooms, sliced
14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Season both sides of the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a bowl, then dredge each cutlet through to lightly coat.
In a heavy saute pan over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter. When the butter has melted, add the chicken cutlets and cook until golden and crusty on both sides and just cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the cutlets to a platter and cover with foil.
Return the saute pan to the heat and add the remaining oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook until the mushrooms start to soften, about 3 minutes, then add the artichoke hearts. Continue cooking until the mushrooms are tender, another 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the wine, broth and lemon juice and stir to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits stuck to the pan. Let the sauce bubble, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, then adjust seasoning. Place the yogurt in a small bowl and whisk in about 1/3 cup of the mushroom sauce. Whisk the yogurt back into the sauce in the pan. Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 370 calories; 150 calories from fat (41 percent of total calories); 16 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 100 mg cholesterol; 18 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 33 g protein; 630 mg sodium.