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Signature Dish: Chicken With Sun-dried Tomatoes

Who: Gina Gathings, 58, of St. Petersburg, owner of Gina's Art and Science of Skincare

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What: Chicken With Sun-dried Tomatoes

About the recipe: "Many years ago, I catered parties, and at that time ... I had over a thousand cookbooks," Gathings said. In the late '80s, she discovered in one of those cookbooks a recipe for chicken with sun-dried tomatoes, and she has been making it ever since. She still remembers the first night she cooked it for her husband.

" 'Oh, this is everything. This is the best,' " she remembers him saying.

Over the years, Gathings has experimented with the recipe. To add color, she sometimes serves it over spinach fettuccine. For extra flavor, she browns mushrooms in butter, sets them aside and adds them to the cooked chicken and pureed sauce. Every time, it's a success. Plus, it's "fast enough that it can be done on a weeknight after work," Gathings said.

Gathings, who describes herself as a "right-brained girl," loves the arts. She did ballroom dancing for 20 years, played the guitar, painted and did flower arranging. Cooking is yet another way to express her creative side.

"I have this wonderful husband who loves everything I make," she said. "It's such a pleasure to cook for someone like that."

On the side: a caprese salad with layered tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil

Tips: Although the recipe calls for red pepper flakes, you can leave them out (or reduce the quantity) for less of a kick. To make sure the chicken breasts all cook at the same pace, before cooking, Gathings covers them with plastic wrap and pounds them down with a meat mallet to make them uniform. She cooks them in a stainless steel pan to give them a golden brown color — which usually takes about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

Favorite thing to cook with: Fresh herbs, because they can turn any dish into something restaurant-quality. "I almost always pick up a package of the fresh herbs," she said. "Thyme and tarragon go beautifully with chicken as well."

Emily Young, Times correspondent

Signature Dish is published periodically in Taste. If you have a recipe that you would like featured or would like to nominate other home cooks and their dishes, please email the information to features@sptimes.com with a name and daytime phone number. Include SIGNATURE DISH in the subject line. Nominations can be mailed to Taste, Tampa Bay Times, 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

>>Moderate

Chicken With Sun-dried Tomatoes

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

Salt

Black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup (½ ounce) sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

¾ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

¼ cup dry white wine

¾ cup chicken broth

¼ cup heavy cream

¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Pat dry chicken and season with salt and black pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, and brown chicken, turning once, about 6 minutes total. (Chicken will not be cooked through.) Transfer with tongs to a plate.

Drain, pat dry and coarsely chop the sun-dried tomatoes and add them to the skillet with garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring, until garlic is pale golden, about 1 minute. Add wine and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil, covered.

Add chicken and any juices on the plate back into skillet and simmer, covered, until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chicken with tongs to a platter and keep warm, loosely covered with foil. Stir cream and 2 tablespoons basil into sauce in skillet and bring just to a simmer.

Transfer sauce to a deep heatproof bowl or 1-quart glass measure and puree with an immersion blender until almost smooth. (If you blend the sauce in a standing blender, use caution when blending hot liquids.) If necessary, add water to thin to desired consistency, then season with salt and pepper.

Serve sauce over chicken and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons basil.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Gina Gathings of St. Petersburg

Signature Dish: Chicken With Sun-dried Tomatoes 07/14/14 [Last modified: Monday, July 14, 2014 4:19pm]
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