Yes. It's true. Seattle has neared record-breaking levels of rain in the last two days. The Coast Guard was called to save four people stranded in a van, the Whidby Island Navy search and rescue saved two people, a dog and a cat from iminent flooding, and desparate calls for pizza delivery have sopping delivery men and women wading in waist deep water to present hot-from-the-oven pizzas to waiting, anxious families. Save the pizza delivery guy (or gal) from the torrential flooding.
So, if not pizza, what to cook for dinner? I had wanted something cozy, something to curl up with. I was watching the merciless rain come down on my tiny rosemary and oregano plants and thought of a red wine mushroom and rosemary sauce I had seen in the magazine Real Simple. I could save some of my rosemary sprigs and use the dried wild mushrooms I recently picked up at Trader Joe's. Perfect.
All that I needed to add was boneless, skinless chicken breast, and a side vegetable--yams would fit in with the woodsy taste of the wild mushrooms, which I had--how easy was this going to be? I would soon find out.
A small detail had to be ironed out. I wasn't sure if I had yams or sweet potatoes in my cupboard. Until recently I had been going along in perfect bliss not thinking much about the subject of Yam V. Sweet Potato, that is until I read Barbara Kafka's book Vegetable Love. Apparently (under the good guidance of the veggie authority and her book ), I found that sweet potatoes are not potatoes (tubers) at all --they are roots! Also, sweet potatoes are not yams, even though some have yam in their common name. Talk about identity crises.
At this point you might be asking 'why doesn't that silly girl just pay attention to what she buys at the grocery?' I feel justified in my lapse. Even if I would have paid attention, Barbara notes that supermarkets often misname yams as sweet potatoes. I felt even better when she comments that eaters, cooks, and writers get them confused. I'm not alone!
Originally I thought I would roast the yams (sweet potatoes?) while I was making the mushroom sauce and chicken. That was not to be. Kafka's first statement on roasting these vegetables was, "do not roast yams." Was I sure I had sweet potatoes? No. But were they yams? I had no idea. No matter how much I tried to identify these mystery vegetables with the description in Vegetable Love, I still felt unsure. What if I guess wrong and they really are Yams? I'd be violating Barbara's first roasting commandment. I decide to play it safe and look for another way to cook these babies. Boiling seems like a good option. Followed by a quick mash in some butter, pepper, and salt. I get the go ahead. Kafka says I can add sweet potatoes or yams to boiling water. Success at last.
Wild Mushroom and Rosemary Chicken Served with Yams
(or were they sweet potatoes?)
--Wild Mushroom Sauce Adapted from Real Simple
-- 2 boneless skinless chicken breast, rinsed and patted dry
-- 1 Tbs. oil (grapeseed works fabulously because of its high smoke point)
-- 2 yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and diced in 1" cubes
-- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
-- 1/2 lb. dried wild mushrooms (or any fresh mushroom can be substituted)
-- 1/4 cup red wine
-- 1/2 Tbs. fresh rosemary, chopped
-- salt and pepper, to taste
Directions for Chicken and Mushroom Sauce
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place baking dish in oven to preheat.
- Re-hydrate your mushrooms according to package directions. Reserve the liqued.
- Heat oil in saute pan over medium high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of chicken. When the pan is hot, add chicken. Cook a total of 4 minutes (2 minutes for each side.) Place chicken in baking dish in pre-heated oven. Cook until it reaches the desired temperature (see notes below). It should take about 10-12 minutes.
- Using the same saute pan as before, add 1 Tbs. of butter and let it melt. Maintain a medium high temperature. Add the mushrooms and 2 cups of reserved mushroom liqued. Let the mushrooms soften and the liqued condense. Add wine, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, cover, and remove the pan from the heat.
Directions for Yams (Sweet Potatoes)
- Boil salted water in a medium pot. Add the diced yams.
- Cook until a fork tine can pierce the yams easily, 15- 20 minutes
- Drain. Mash. Add 1 Tbs. of butter, salt and pepper. Cover until ready to serve.
- This comes together fast, so have everything ready and life will be a lot easier.
- If you are using fresh mushrooms, skip the second step, cover the saute pan after adding the mushrooms and let them steam for 5 to 7 minutes.
- The chicken is done when the juices run clear or an instant read thermometer reaches the desired temperature. And, depending on who you are, that temperature can be a couple numbers. The USDA recommends 165 degrees F. I like my chicken cooked to 145 degrees F. The choice is yours.