Food You Can Eat: Celebrity Sunday Matinee: Katie Couric’s Lemon Chicken

When life hands you lemons, make Katie Couric's Lemon Chicken

That is not "iced out" Ashleigh Banfield on the left. This is Katie attending the grand opening of Hair House in New Rochelle, New York, June, 2022. Sis gotta get that coin.

I was going to do a straightforward bio of “America’s Sweetheart.” Seriously, that’s what the hoi polloi and various TV news networks’ publicity departments called her, so just this once I’m not using the term sarcastically. But instead, I thought I would focus on her memoir Going There and the insights it provides. Not that I’ve read the book of course, but I’ve read tons of reviews, both favorable and less so, and the reviewers fill in some stuff. Hey, I’m not getting paid for this assignment nor am I getting academic credit, so this will have to do.

I will always love Katie Couric for a number of reasons, not least of which was her sit-down interview with Sarah “Looks Like a Bear Caught in the Headlamp of a Helicopter Bearing Down On It with a Lunatic Shooting a High-Powered Weapon at It” Palin during the 2008 Race for the White House. The actual interview was a master class in the old adage, “Give ‘em enough rope”, with the highlight being, of course when Katie asked her something like what news sources or newspapers or magazines she read, “Mama Grizzly” replied, “All of ‘em, Katie!” Sentient America chuckled knowingly, reasonably believing that Sarah Palin couldn’t really comprehend the writing on the back of a cereal box. Its greatest accomplishment, though, was to serve as the inspiration for one of the best SNL sketches ever. Watch it with me again, won’t you? 

I want to say two things: Amy Poehler here is pregnant with her son Archie by her then-husband Will Arnett, who was Gob Bluth on Arrested Development. Also, Sarah Palin was once a TV sportscaster, so Sarah has some TV news experience under her belt too, just like Katie.

In Going There Katie is quite upfront about her jealousy/hatred of Diane Sawyer, writing that Sawyer was everything she was not, tall, blonde, and had a “voice full of money.” Well, kind of: Sawyer was from Glasgow, Kentucky, her father a county judge, and one can imagine the justice he was meting out in 1945, the year Sawyer was born. Can I share this about a young Diane Sawyer?

In her senior year of high school, in 1963, she won first place in the annual national America’s Junior Miss scholarship pageant as a representative from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. She won by her strength of poise in the final interview and her essay comparing the music of the North and the South during the Civil War. From 1963 to 1965, Sawyer was America’s Junior Miss, touring the country to promote the Coca-Cola Pavilion at the 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair.

You know what else happened in 1963, while Di was comparing folk tunes popular in the North versus the South during the Civil War (I’m sure she referred to it as The War of Northern Aggression)? Martin Luther King marched on Washington. Naturally she ended up in Nixon’s White House as a speechwriter. 

Possibly the strangest part of Going There is her vigorous defense of best buddy and former co-host of Today Matt Lauer. “I knew Matt loved beautiful women . . . he could charm the pants (as it were) off any celebrity.” Oh boy. When details of Lauer’s “rape room” office were revealed (his office was next door to Katie’s, by the way) and Lauer went into hiding, she texted him, “I love you and care about you deeply. I am here.” She repeats this in her book! I don’t think Better Half would defend me if I did half the things Lauer is credibly accused of. 

On the other hand, when Couric’s first husband was suffering with and ultimately died of colon cancer Katie threw herself into work for that cause, including going so far as to having a colonoscopy on camera. I write a small check to the North Shore Animal League, the provisioner of our shelter beast The Faithful Hound, every year and I think I’m being virtuous.

Anyway. As far as I can tell, this recipe was first revealed to the world when in 2005 The Today Show, for whatever reason, had the gang each contribute something. Poor mercilessly bullied Ann Curry. She was part of this. She contributed pasta puttanesca, which coincidentally I, too, have shared with you. I wonder if, as part of her humiliation, she was forced to, because, as I explained, the term comes from the Italian word for whore, puttana. How Katie and Matt must have laughed. Al Roker gave us a chili recipe which, fine, there are a million of them. Matt Lauer dished up The Silver Palate Cookbook’s recipe for chicken Marbella, Whatever. I thought I had written up a recipe I have for chicken Marbella. Despite its name, chicken Marbella has nothing to do with Marbella, Spain, and everything to do with the Upper West Side’s Silver Palate restaurant, so maybe this whole Today show stunt was spon-con from The Silver Palate Cookbook. Maybe this recipe is from there too. But SPC came out in 1982, so why in 2005…? It’s too hot to put any more thought into this.

Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
flour (for dredging)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
2 lemons, juice of
3 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper
hot cooked basmati rice
fresh parsley, chopped
lemon slice (to garnish)

Directions:

Pound chicken breasts with a meat pounder to a uniform thickness. Dredge lightly in flour, shaking off excess.

In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, melt the butter and oil until it sizzles. Add the chicken breasts and sauté, turning once or twice, until cooked through and juices run clear. Remove chicken and set aside.

Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute until the mixture boils.

Add the lemon juice to the chicken broth and whisk into the sauté pan. Reduce heat to a simmer.

Return the chicken to the pan to heat through, thickening sauce to desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve the chicken on a bed of basmati rice and spoon the sauce over the chicken.

Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon slices. Enjoy!

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11 Comments

    • Jeff Zucker covered for Lauer for years too. Considering Zucker’s own weird history, who knows if it was a birds of a feather feeling or fear on Zucker’s part.

      But the supposed justification was Zucker was worried about all of those Matt Lauer fans abandoning the Today Show, which turned out to be completely wrong. So Zucker was not just immoral, he was bad at the business.  Which makes his hiring at CNN even more mystifying.

      • CNN? You mean the Chris Cuomo network? Where Zucker and Chris were palsies and Zucker thought having their “star” trot out his own brother for mutually beneficial puffball pieces was a good idea? Which it was, it got good ratings, but so did Donald Trump’s The Apprentice, (another Jeff Zucker production) and Donald Trump never pretended he was doing a news show. Really, just an ouroboros of some of the worst that prime time programming has ever unleashed on an unwitting public. Walter Cronkite’s lucky he died in 2009 and just missed all of this.

        • Cuomo was another example of Zucker’s stupidity. He’d hire people like Cuomo who drove away everyone but fans, then do audience testing that confirmed that fans of the people he hired had loyalty to the people he hired.

          Same deal with Trump and The Apprentice, which lost audience over time as the gimmick wore off, but Zucker was convinced his base shrinking down to hardcore fans was proof of his appeal.

          But the whole point of TV isn’t maintaining a shrinking fan base, it’s getting the highest ratings possible. CNN’s ratings melted while Zucker ran things. They stunk at NBC too. Zucker did everything backwards.

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