The Cookthink recipe map

by admin on March 28, 2007 · 12 comments

The recipes with which we’ll launch the main Cookthink site will be a starting point. We’ll have Cookthink interpretations of some classic recipes. We’ll have recipes we’ve put together over the past six months that are based on what’s been in the fridge. And we’ll have recipes that we’ve written based on the Cookthink recipe map.

What is the Cookthink recipe map exactly?

We started by compiling a list of the most commonly available (in the U.S. and Canada, at least) ingredients — accessible cuts of meat, vegetables, grains, herbs, spices and so on.

Next, we went through each ingredient and chose a few different ways to prepare each one, simply. What are three good ways to cook broccoli? What are our favorite techniques for boneless, skinless chicken breasts? After single ingredients, we mixed and matched. Which chicken-broccoli dish most excites us?

In creating recipes, we varied the tastes and flavors of dishes by focusing on different cuisines. What would make that marinade Asian instead of Italian? What spices would make that stew Moroccan instead of Indian? What makes one salad Provencal and another Alsatian? And so on.

It’s a lot of terrain to cover and we’ve barely started. We’re finishing the foundation now and can’t wait to keep building with our users, each of whom will bring individual quirks and moods to the Cookthink community.

Anyway, speaking of the recipe map, here’s a basic dish I’ve been testing — sautéed chicken breasts with a vegetable-heavy pan sauce — that we’ll vary in many different ways. This is a southern Italian take.

Sautéed chicken breasts with tomatoes and capers
serves 4

2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts (4 halves)
salt and pepper
4 teaspoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1. Cut the two chicken breasts into four separate pieces if they’re not already. Season them generously on both sides with salt and pepper.

2. Prep the garlic and parsley. Cut the tomatoes in half, then into quarters. Cut out and discard the core from each quarter, then roughly chop each of the quarters.

3. Heat half the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When it’s barely smoking, add the chicken breasts. Shake the pan a couple of times during the first 30 seconds of cooking to keep the chicken from sticking. Then leave the breasts alone to brown well on the first side, 4-6 minutes.

4. Turn the chicken over and let it brown on the second side, shaking again to prevent sticking, another 4-6 minutes. When the breasts are brown on both sides, remove them to a plate.

5. Add the remaining olive oil and the garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, just until you can smell the garlic, about 30 seconds.

6. Stir in the red wine, chicken broth and tomatoes. Scrape the bottom of the pan to release the brown bits left by the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium.

7. Nestle the chicken breasts into the sauce and cook, turning once, until the chicken reaches 155F in the thickest part, 7-10 more minutes. (Stir in the capers when you turn over the chicken.)

8. Add the parsley and a drizzle of olive oil to the sauce, and add more salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the sauce over the chicken.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary March 28, 2007 at 1:36 pm

I really like the idea for a recipe map, it’ll be especially useful for people who don’t already cook a lot of different ethnic cuisines. I think that you will find a new audience, not just the foodies.

Regarding the chicken breasts, I always pound them fairly thin, they take less time to cook and I find that I can get the center done while keeping the outside fairly tender. Any thoughts about that? I also like a sauce that’s thickened a little, so unless I’m willing to have the extra calories of finishing with butter, I’ll usually use flour or cornstarch (depending on what it is).

Brys March 28, 2007 at 3:26 pm

Thanks Mary. We hope that it will have broad appeal.
I considered pounding these thin, but skipped it to see how it would go. It didn’t take very long and the center was really moist, so I was glad I didn’t bother. In a real rush it would make sense.
Cornstarch or flour dissolved in water, stock or wine would definitely thicken after boiling for a few minutes, as you say. I like to stir in full fat yogurt to sauces to thicken them, stometimes. They’re much lower in fat than butter and add tang. Do this off the heat and don’t let the yogurt boil, though, or it will break apart.

Trevor March 28, 2007 at 3:53 pm

I’m excited for the recipe map. Being a college student it would be extremely helpful to have an array of different recipes for a few simple ingredients. It’s easy to get into a routine of eating the same things and it sounds like the recipe map could be a welcome change.

Erin March 28, 2007 at 4:46 pm

I think the recipe map is a great idea. It is so easy to fall into a rut with certain ingredients, and the map sounds like an easy way to create variation with commonly used items. As for the chicken breasts, I think pounding them thin is usually more effort than it’s worth. Also, I think adding some shallots or red onions (I prefer shallots) would be a great addition to the sauce.

Elizabeth March 29, 2007 at 7:37 am

I love love love this recipe. We went through a phase where we were making it once a week with green beans, cherry tomatoes, fennel, mushrooms…anything seasonal or on hand. Chip has made it for my family in a brothy version that is great for dipping crusty bread. You can add mustard for zing and/or add cream for a rich treat.

Jean March 29, 2007 at 10:24 am

So I decided to try this recipe out last night, and with a few of my own twists and turns here and there it ended up delicious, simple and satisfying. Definitely a hit. I love your site – you guys do a fabulous job giving concise, workable tips and recommendations. Not to mention the photos. Keep them coming!

Brys March 29, 2007 at 10:34 am

Yes! So glad you liked it, Jean. Thanks.

Brys March 29, 2007 at 10:37 am

Elizabeth, I remember that chicken, cherry tomato, green bean thing. It was originally adapted from Martha Stewart’s show Everyday Food. That reminds me that this works with bone-in breasts, too, with a little more cooking time.

Brys March 30, 2007 at 2:00 pm

Thanks for the variation Erin. Shallots would be delicious — a little sweetness. Please keep stopping by Trevor. Thanks for the enthusiasm.

Lady Bean April 7, 2007 at 12:43 pm

Made this last night, and I followed the recipe exactly — which I don’t usually do. It was superb. I’m anxiously awaiting this recipe map. The idea is very appealing! I’m going to try this recipe again, but I want to add black beans in sauce and use cilantro in the place of the parsley. I’ll also add some green onions in with the garlic. Mmmmm.

medications September 10, 2008 at 10:20 am


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