I spent much of the day writing unsuccessful fiction, so to boost my own self confidence, I am posting a recipe today. I made this last week after reading the current Cooking Light magazine. Inspired by the article about chicken breast recipes, but lacking the proper ingredients for any of the recipes that I wanted to try (isn’t that always the way?), I came up with this gem. See, I can do something successfully. So there, evil voice in my head.

This recipe calls for capers, which are deliciously picklish, slightly tart berries. They are found in jars, preserved in either brine or salt. If you have the brined type, rinse them thoroughly before using. If you have the salt-cured kind, which I prefer, soak your measured capers in a few changes of water for about fifteen minutes before using them. You’ll notice that this comes together really quickly, so have all your ingredients prepped before you start. You’ll want to have your salad or vegetable ready before you start this, too.

Browned butter-caper chicken breasts

2 chicken breasts, pounded to about half-an-inch thick between two pieces of wax paper

1 tbsp olive oil

juice from one lemon

1 tbsp butter

1 shallot, finely minced

1 tbsp capers, rinsed or soaked, then chopped

salt and pepper

Season your pounded chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over med-high heat. When pan is smoking hot, add olive oil. Heat oil for 15 seconds or so, until it shimmers, then add chicken breasts. Cook chicken for about 3 minutes. When it is well-browned and releases easily from the pan, turn it over and cook for another three minutes or so on the other side. (Um, if you skipped that whole pounding step this is going to take substantially longer. Cook until done, or 160 degrees.) Remove chicken from pan and cover loosely with foil. In the same hot pan, add butter, capers, shallots and 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Saute, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan for two to three minutes. You want the shallots crispy and the butter nice and brown. Add lemon juice, scrape all the good bits off the bottom of the pan again. Scrape the browned butter-caper-lemon mixture onto your chicken breasts and serve.

Whew! I feel better now that I have mastered dinner. I’ve had a few domestic failures recently, including a bad candle making experience (thanks, Martha Stewart, for leading me wrong there) and a failed fudge-making attempt. It’s easy to shrug those things off. It’s a lot harder to plow through pages of bad characterization and weak plotting to find something salvageable. You know it’s bad when you turn off your computer in favor of doing squats and vacuuming. At least the floors are clean now.

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