Dinner Rush! "Everything" Chicken with Cream Cheese-Parsnip Puree

By: Patrick Decker

Cool thing #247 about working on a TV show: craft services.

In the world of TV production, long days on set means little time for meal breaks, so the crew is fed from what the biz calls craft services. It's usually simple stuff like yogurts, trail mix, fresh fruit, gum, yesterday’s craft services. When I was working with Rachael Ray, the crown jewel of crafty — the thing that kicked the day off right — was the ever-elusive everything bagel.

The whirling dervish of a New York City morning comes to a stop, just for a second, as thick, tangy cream cheese is spackled onto every toasted and exposed surface of an everything bagel. It’s a perfect combination of savory flavors that, admittedly, will leave you in a carb-coma with garlic breath all morning. But that’s the price you pay for glory.  And tactical advantage. You see, when a crew is, say, 50 people, and the daily standing order only includes, say, five everything bagels, then may the odds, my friend, be ever in your favor. Most are leaving that table void of an everything.

While I’m not on set as much these days, I still miss craft services. It’s the proverbial dinner table for the entire crew. We gather; we pour coffee; we share stories; we tell jokes.  And we would push each other down the stairs in a second for that last everything bagel.

“Everything” Chicken with Cream Cheese-Parsnip Puree

Yield:  4 servings
Prep Time:  5 minutes
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

For the puree
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
1 russet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks
1 large egg
Salt and ground black pepper

For the chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and ground black pepper
4 (4- to 6-ounce) skin-on, boneless chicken breasts

To prepare the puree place the parsnips and potato into a medium pot and cover with cold water. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Simmer the vegetables until cooked through and very tender, about 15 minutes.

Drain the vegetables well and transfer them to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the machine a few times to chop them up and then add in the garlic, cream cheese and egg. Run the machine to make a smooth puree, about 30 seconds. Season the puree with salt and pepper.  Reserve.

To prepare the chicken place a large sauté pan over medium heat with the olive oil. In a wide shallow dish combine the poppy, sesame, caraway, onion, garlic and some salt and pepper; stir to combine. Press the chicken, skin-side-down, in the mixture to get an even coating. Place each crusted breast of chicken in the sauté pan, skin-side-down, and cook, flipping once, until deep golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Serve the chicken with the prepared puree.

NOTE: If you don’t have a food processor,  the vegetables can simply be mashed with a potato masher.

Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network stars Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Marc Forgione and Bobby Deen, he now works as a food stylist and producer in NYC by day and a food writer and recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following him on Twitter & Instagram at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com .

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