Chicken doesn't have to be bland

Once there was a chicken in every pot. Now there's a boneless, skinless chicken breast in every skillet. Economical, versatile and quick-cooking chicken breasts are often what's for dinner. They're a good source of lean protein, with less total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol per ounce than beef, according to USDA's Nutrient Database.

The biggest complaint you hear about chicken breast is that it's sometimes a tad bland. But this recipe for chicken and pepper saute with ginger-herb sauce is a quick and tasty way to add flavor without a lot of extra fat.

Cooking tips: To pound a chicken breast thin, place breasts smooth side down on a large sheet of plastic wrap, then cover with another sheet. Pound until the breast is the same thickness from end to end.

This tip comes from "The Joy of Cooking's All About Chicken" (Scribner) by Irma S. Rombauer, Ethan Becker and Marion Rombauer Becker: "With chicken breasts, the handsomest side goes into the pan first."

The pan and the fat must be hot enough that the chicken does not stick; at low heat, the chicken dries out. Do not crowd breasts, or they will steam rather than brown.

Chicken and Pepper Saute With Ginger-Herb Sauce

1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled

1/3cup flat-leaf Italian parsley

1/3cup fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/4cup rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons honey

1/2teaspoon ground coriander

Salt and pepper to taste

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

2 cups cooked brown rice

Place ginger, parsley and mint leaves in the work bowl of a food processor. Process to chop ginger and herbs. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey and coriander. Process to blend. Salt and pepper to taste; set aside.

Pound chicken breasts until thin and even. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet. Cook chicken over medium-high heat 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken to cutting board and allow to rest for a few minutes.

Meanwhile cook red pepper in skillet until crisp tender; about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer peppers to a medium bowl. Cut chicken into thin strips and add to peppers. Pour herb mixture over chicken and peppers; toss gently to coat. Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving (3 oz. chicken and 1/2 cup brown rice): 326 calories (28 percent from fat), 10 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 66 milligrams cholesterol, 30 grams carbohydrates, 29 grams protein, 80 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.

The Wichita Eagle—04/20/10