My grandmother, a well-seasoned cook and fantastic baker, has always talked about how much she loves reading cookbooks. It wasn’t until recently, when I started cooking regularly for myself, that I understood what she meant. Not only is it a great way to learn new cooking techniques, but so many cookbooks hold information that goes well beyond the recipe. Little nuggets like conversion tables, tips and tricks about which types cookware to use, and basics like the best way to measure certain ingredients grace the pages of the better cookbooks.
So, when my grandmother recommended “The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook,” I took her suggestion pretty seriously – she is not quick to refer someone to a bad cookbook. I thumbed through it at her house and fell in love. It was full of such great information about everything from cookware to product reviews to amazing recipes. On my next trip to Barnes and Noble, as I perused the cookbook section, I came across “The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook” – it had all of the great information in the traditional version but all of the recipes were light and healthy! Sold! (Not all of the recipes are “clean,” but I figured I have lots of clean cookbooks and it couldn’t hurt to add something different to my collection.)
I started to make a list of what I wanted to make out of the book – turned out to be basically everything. I settled the “Spa Chicken” and low-fat “Mushroom-Marsala Sauce.” Some Marsala sauces and recipes end up laden with calories – from breaded chicken to heavy cream in the sauce itself. This was a huge turnoff to me, so until now I had considered it an occasional treat to order when eating out rather than something I could whip up at home.
Not anymore! I couldn’t have been more pleased with the recipe came out – I don’t think I would change anything about it! And, to boot, this was the first time I made poached chicken as a main dish and not as part of a soup. In stark contrast to my last recipe experiment, I followed the steps on these recipes exactly. Both recipes below are from “The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook” – check them out at http://www.americastestkitchen.com/.
- 2 teaspoons EVOO
- 8 oz. white mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced thin (I used 10 oz. because I love mushrooms!)
- salt and pepper
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup dry Marsala
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.
- Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt; cook until browned.
- Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Whisk in the broth and Marsala and bring to a simmer.
- Whisk the water and cornstarch together and then stir into the sauce.
- Simmer until the sauce is thickened and measures 1 cup, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and whisk in the butter, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed, pounded if necessary
- salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives, parsley, cilantro, or tarragon
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
- Combine the water, garlic, thyme, and soy sauce in a 12-inch skillet.
- Add the chicken and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, 10 to 15 minutes.
- When the water is simmering, flip the chicken over, cover, and continue to cook until the chicken registers 160 to 165 degrees.
- Transfer the chicken to a carving board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Slice on the bias into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
- Sprinkle with parsley and cover in Marsala sauce and mushrooms to serve.