Photo by Kate Andersen
This is an easy, comforting sort of meal--good for when you're almost too busy to cook. And, of course, it's really all about the guacamole.
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes Inactive Prep: 30+ minutes
Cook Time: About 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Guacamole: • About 3 small/medium avocados
• 1 medium tomato • ½ medium red onion
• 2-3 cloves garlic • 1 jalapeño
• 1 Lime • Cumin, salt, and pepper to taste
• Cilantro to taste
Chicken: • 4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
• Olive oil • Lime
• Cilantro • Salt/pepper
Mushrooms: • Unsalted butter
• Olive oil • 2 cartons white button mushrooms
• Any decent wine
First, wash and chop up about one bunch of cilantro. Then, mix together enough olive oil and lime juice to marinate the chicken breasts in, and add cilantro and salt and pepper, all more or less to taste. Let the chicken marinate for at least half an hour.
For the guacamole, first cut the avocados in half (if they're ripe, they should be a dark greeny purple on the outside, soft to the touch but still a little firm, and green on the inside, with only a few brown spots). Take out the pits, and then cube up the avocado halves--place in a medium bowl. Squeeze a little lime juice into the avocado, both to taste and to make it easier to mix up later. Dice both the tomato and onion, and add them to the avocado. Mince the garlic cloves and jalapeño (without seeds for less spice, with for more) and add to the bowl with the avocados, tomato, and onion.
Mix everything together until there's still a chunky texture, but the avocados have broken down some and everything sort of binds together. Add more lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper, and the rest of the cilantro (whatever you didn't use in the marinade). All of this is more or less to taste--personal preferences rule here. When everything is combined to your satisfaction, put in the fridge.
Photo by Kate Andersen
Wash off the mushrooms (either directly under the faucet, or you can just wipe them quickly with a damp cloth), twist off the stems, and slice them thickly, usually about 3 slices per cap.
In one of two pans (the smaller if they're different sizes), put about 1-2 tablespoons of butter and turn the heat on medium-low. When the butter has melted down some, add the mushrooms. Drizzle a little olive oil over them, and stir to coat all the mushrooms evenly in both the butter and oil. Let the mushrooms simmer over the medium-low heat while you take the chicken out of the fridge.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and sprinkle a little cumin and cayenne pepper on either side, as a sort of informal rub. Put down a little olive oil in the larger pan (or, if like us you're trying to save the olive oil for actual eating, you can use a spray like Pam), and turn the heat on medium-high. Add the chicken breasts and sear for a few minutes on either side until they brown a little bit. Cover the chicken, reduce the heat to low, and cook for another 5-10 minutes (depending on the thickness of the breasts).
While the chicken continues to cook, if you like and have it on hand, I usually add a little more liquid for the mushrooms to soak up--a few splashes of any sort of white, red, or rose wine that you have on hand does the trick. If not, they might require a little more olive oil; either way, they should more or less be done when the chicken is--they're ready when they're still tender and thick, but have nevertheless cooked down quite a bit.
When the chicken is done, let it sit for a few minutes before serving. Add the mushrooms and guacamole, and serve with any sort of tortilla chip (personally a fan of blue corn!).
Note: I also served the chicken with a lemon/yogurt sauce drizzled on top; it's a cool and creamy counterpoint to the slightly spicy cayenne in the chicken. A small watercress or arugula salad can also make a nice refreshing addition to this meal.