Complex, multi-step recipes have their place, but sometimes you just want recipes that are scrumptiously straightforward. After a long day out in the fields, this way of serving chicken breast is one of my "go to's" -- great taste, minimal effort. What's not to love?
Everyone and their uncle has different guidelines for how long and at what temperature to cook chicken, and chances are that you do, too. I currently do all my baking in a toaster oven, pending next week's installation of my new range (we've had to wait for all that evil white stuff to finish melting to plumb the gas hookup). I'm not sure how accurately my Black and Decker keeps temperature, so I won't lull you into a false sense of security with exact cook times.
What I will do is tell you my general technique. I recommend starting the chicken under the broiler. Watch it carefully, letting it go until the skin starts to take on a lightly golden appearance. I find that the direct heat from the broiler helps make the skin nice and crispy (assuming you are using skin-on breasts). Once you've accomplished this, you should reduce the temperature to, say, 375-400, and bake until it's done. You'll know it's done when the juices run clear, or when a thermometer inserted into the middle reads around 165 F.
What you'll need:
2 chicken breasts 3-4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped1-2 beets, peeled and cubedHoney, to tasteLoads of butter or coconut oil1-2 Tbsp Ground GingerSea salt
1/4 cup honey1/2 cup apple cider vinegarFreshly ground black pepper
Start off by seasoning your chicken breast with a little sea salt. Proceed to bake it either according to your own method, or to the method described above.
While your chicken is baking, begin working on your vegetables. In a small saucepan, melt a few tablespoons of butter (or coconut oil) and stir in your ground ginger. Add honey to taste, and stir until dissolved.
Add your carrots and beets, and stir to coat them in that buttery deliciousness (or coconutty deliciousness, if you've gone that route).
Add about a quarter cup of warm water, and cover pan to steam until tender (8-10 minutes).
If you're good at timing, your chicken will finish up around the same time as your veggies. If not, just remove the veggies from heat, give a quick stir, and leave covered under a kitchen towel until you are ready for them.
Spoon the vegetables onto the plate, and set the chicken breast atop them.
Optional Extra Step
This recipe is quite good topped with an apple cider gastrique. A gastrique is a sweet and tart reduction made from vinegar and sugar or, in this case, honey.
This step should be started around the same time the chicken goes in the oven. It takes about 20 minutes to complete:
Add honey to a small saucepan over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, or until honey has noticeably darkened.
Add your apple cider vinegar and cook for another 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced to the consistency of maple syrup.
Remove from heat and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Spoon over the plated chicken breast, and enjoy!
--When I prepared this, I actually used beets that I had pressure canned in the fall (ie they were already cooked). You may or may not be able to reproduce the color separation between the carrots and the beets that is shown in the above picture. If it really matters to you, you could try cooking them separately, or steaming the beets above the carrots and then adding them at the end.
--You'll notice that there is no starch with this meal (as with most of my recipes). I don't eat much in the way of grains or starchy vegetables, but if I did I would definitely try this with creamy mashed potatoes.
- Chris Freeman