With skillet heat just right, chicken breasts can be cooked and bronzed in a matter of minutes. Add a spinach rice pilaf for a full, quick meal.


"My advice to people at home is bronzing rather than blackening," Paul Prudhomme says. "This avoids the smoke and the risk of handling a red-hot skillet while still achieving an excellent result."

Prudhomme, one of America's favorite chefs and the father of blackened redfish, gave me this advice during an interview. His Bronzed Chicken can be cooked indoors without smoke and keeps the chicken juicy. The secret is to keep the skillet at the right temperature. The chicken should take 6 to 7 minutes to cook. If it takes much longer, the skillet is not hot enough.

Another hint from Prudhomme is to bring the chicken breasts to room temperature before cooking. This gives a more even and juicier result.

Use the Cajun spice mixture given in the recipe or use 1 tablespoon prepared Cajun spice seasoning mix.

The Spinach Rice Pilaf recipe is easy to make and takes less than 20 minutes to cook.

You can use microwaveable rice and stir the spinach into the rice as soon as the rice is cooked.

The spinach will wilt in the heat of the cooked rice.


Bronzed Chicken Breasts

Serves: 2

• 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

• 1 teaspoon dried oregano

• 1 teaspoon dried thyme

• 2 teaspoons olive oil

Pound chicken breasts flat to about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick with a meat pounder or heavy skillet. Mix together cayenne pepper, garlic powder, oregano and thyme. Spoon half onto one side of the chicken breasts, pressing it into the flesh.

Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat and add oil. When it is very hot, add the chicken breasts, seasoned side down. Spread remaining spice mixture on top side of chicken. Cook until the underside is bronze in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Cook second side 3 to 4 minutes or until cooked through. A meat thermometer should read 170 degrees.

Per serving: 239 calories (34 percent from fat), 9 g fat (1.8 g saturated, 4.6 g monounsaturated), 108 mg cholesterol, 36.4 g protein, 1.7 g carbohydrates, 0.7 g fiber, 199 mg sodium.

Rice and Spinach Pilaf

Serves: 2

• 1 teaspoon olive oil

• 1/2 cup long-grain white rice

• 1 cup low-salt tomato juice

• 1 cup water

• 2 cups washed, ready-to-eat spinach

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add rice and sauté one minute. Add tomato juice and water. Bring to a simmer, lower heat, cover and gently simmer 15 minutes. If pan becomes dry, add a little more water. Stir in the spinach - it will wilt in the heat of the rice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving: 216 calories (9 percent from fat), 2.7 g fat (0.4 g saturated, 1.8 g monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 5.1 g protein, 43.2 g carbohydrates, 1.8 g fiber, 38 mg sodium.