Getting chicken breasts right is a flex, but a tricky one. The delicate white meat, so low in fat, can go from supple to chalky in only one distracted, phone-checking, heartbreaking minute.
Pierre Franey’s five-star recipe for chicken breasts with lemon solves this problem by searing the chicken quickly on both sides until golden brown and then building a sauce in the same skillet. The meat finishes cooking in the liquid, which keeps it from overheating. The pan sauce is rich and tangy, filled with shallots, thyme, two full teaspoons of grated lemon zest and, of course, butter (a French cook’s answer to most things). And the chicken emerges tender and redolent of citrus and herbs. Pierre suggests serving it over mashed potatoes with basil and olive oil, but I also love it with crispy roasted potatoes, which are easier, anyway.
Either of those potato dishes would make a fine partner for Kevin Noble Maillard’s microwave salmon, a paragon of silky, speedy simplicity. Kevin’s recipe calls for immersing the fish in salt water to subtly season the fillets, allowing their oceanic flavor to shine. Add a dollop of your preferred condiment (mustard, mayonnaise, chile sauce, pesto), or else serve it with a drizzle of good olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. It’s one of the easiest meals you can make and has practically no cleanup — a boon for busy salmon lovers everywhere.
Shrimp fans might try Eric Kim’s take on shrimp fried rice, conveniently made from bagged frozen mixed vegetables, with a splash of mayo-ketchup sauce decorating the top. Not as instantaneous as the salmon, perhaps, but still an easy triumph for the harried.