Sunday, 20 November 2011

Chicken Breast with Lemony Bombay Potatoes

This little gem of one of the infinite variations of what I like to call the "Lazy-Ass Roast Chicken Breast" technique. You take a chicken breast (or 2, if you have another mouth to feed), season it along with a few veggies, throw it in the oven, wait about 30 minutes and eat. No meat to trim and arrange, no marinade or sauce to prepare, and only one Pyrex dish will get dirty (unless you want to make a bit of rice to go with it, in which case one small sauce pan will also get used)! And so far, every variation I tried turned out just awesome. That's what I call genius.

There is a page in "Cook With Jamie" with 4 basic ideas for single servings of roast chicken breast: this is the most "complicated" one, as you need to parboil the potatoes, but in the colder months of the year, who can really resist a roast potato? I know I can't. And I can't resist an absurdly simple and complete meal at the end of a crazy work day (or after a long walk in the crisp autumn air). Chicken cooked like this is tender and juicy, and the spices give a warm and tangy flavor that brightens something as plain-sounding as chicken and potatoes.

The quantities below serve one, but they are very easily doubled as needed. It's perfect for a simple and intimate dinner: my younger brother keeps this recipe up his sleeve to impress girls who eat at his place for the first time. What a rascal!

1 large handful of potatoes
1 heaped teaspoon tumeric
1 lemon, halved; one half juiced and zested, the other half thinly sliced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 pinch saffron
5 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
1 chicken breast, bones and skin removed
Olive oil
Sea salt and ground pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Place them in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When the potatoes have boiled a minute or so, drain them and set aside. In a large bowl, put the tumeric, lemon zest, cumin, saffron, cilantro and ginger. Add the lemon juice, potatoes and chicken to the bowl. Toss together with a splash of olive oil, some sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper (the potatoes will still be hot, so use salad tossers). Remove the chicken and put the potatoes in one layer in a Pyrex dish, top with slices from the last half of the lemon, and put the chicken on top. Drizzle with a bit more oil and cook for 25 to 30 minutes.

If you wish to vary the vegetables, I suggest substituting half the potatoes for other roots like carrots or turnips. Also, zesting lemons can be a very frustrating experience if one tries to use the small holes-side of a box grater. It's time-consuming and difficult to clean. I highly recommend acquiring a Microplane zester, which is infinitely more practical and precise. Put it over a bowl or clean cutting board and grate the lemon until you get to the white skin below the peel. Obviously zest the lemon before juicing it; doing it the other way around is not only frustrating but also doomed to fail.

Oh, and don't worry: more variants of the "Lazy-Ass Roast Chicken Breast" technique will appear on this blog soon enough. Who am I to deprive the world of delicious and easy recipes?

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