Spicy Chicken with Black Bean, Cranberry, and Sweet Potato Salsa

I loved this dish, and it’s incredibly simple and easy to make. “Spicy” is debatable, but you can certainly add more cayenne if you want some extra heat. Start by dusting the chicken with cumin, cayenne, chili powder, and salt to give it plenty of flavor. Butterflying and broiling the chicken makes it cook quickly, although you can also sauté it if you prefer.

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I enjoyed the sweet potato and black bean salsa so much that I made a second batch to eat for lunch. The salsa is a healthy and hearty mix of sweet potatoes, black beans, onions, and cranberries tossed with garlic and lime. The spices in the chicken blend with the salsa to create a Mexican-inspired meal. The result is a light dinner that is also satisfying. Brightly colored sweet potatoes and cranberries also make it a beautiful dish.

a light dusting of cilantro on top would add some pretty green

a light dusting of cilantro on top would add some pretty green

If you’re looking for an easy appetizer to serve with this meal, I recommend making blistered padron peppers. Be careful–one out of every eight or so is surprisingly hot! Generally they are mild peppers with a texture so rich and smooth, they almost taste like butter. Don’t be afraid to really let them blacken, and be sure you have Maldon salt to season them properly. The triangular shape of the salt flakes makes the flavor pop.

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Enjoy!

Spicy Chicken with Black Bean, Cranberry, and Sweet Potato Salsa

Fine Cooking            Issue 131

Pineapple-Glazed Chicken with Jalapeño Salsa

I recently went on a trip to Kauai, and returned with a lingering hunger for tropical flavors. The pineapple salsa in this dish made it the perfect recipe to satisfy my craving. I tweak this recipe ever so slightly, but it truly is a happy combination of sweet, spicy, and savory.

fruit stand in kauai

fruit stand in kauai

First things first, this recipe can be made with any cut of chicken. I typically just use bone-in and roast until the meat thermometer hits 160. This time I chose all bone-in chicken breasts and set the oven at 375 instead of 400. Although the light char on broiled or grilled chicken can enhance flavor, the glaze is delicate enough that I prefer a simple roasted version for this recipe.

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The glaze is light and makes a delicious sauce for after the chicken is cooked, so I tend to make two to three times the amount of glaze called for in the recipe. I like to use canned pineapple for the salsa, which means I end up with about ¾ cup of pineapple juice anyway. Since pineapple juice is already so sweet, I cut the amount of brown sugar down just a little. With ¾ cup of pineapple juice, I used 4 tablespoons of dark brown sugar and 3 tablespoons of yellow mustard. The lower sugar content means it’s necessary to boil the glaze for a few extra minutes to get it to thicken, but the consistency isn’t as important as the flavor. Just remember to salt and pepper your chicken and your glaze before they go into the oven!

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The salsa is easy to prepare, so you’ll have plenty of time to put it together once the chicken is in the oven. This time I used a fresh jalapeño, and you can even use fresh Serrano peppers if you like a little more heat. As is, this salsa tastes fresh and sweet, with just a little tang and heat from the red onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Again, adding salt and pepper to the final salsa is key.

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I serve this dish with some steamed green beans on the side. It’s bright, colorful, summery, and delicious!

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Pineapple-Glazed Chicken with Jalapeño Salsa

Bon Appétit            March 2010

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Harissa Chickpeas

This fast and simple dish has a surprising complexity of flavors. It tastes like it spent all day slow roasting when in fact the active cooking time is close to thirty minutes. The secret ingredient that adds so much depth is harissa, a spicy paste made from chilis, spices, and olive oil. A little harissa adds a ton of flavor to any dish, but be cautious with store-bought brands as the heat level can vary widely.

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The most labor-intensive step is browning the chicken thighs. Once the meat is browned it just takes a few minutes to sauté the vegetables and spices before placing it in the oven. I’ve been eyeing some beautiful romanesco at the store and decided to prepare it as a light vegetable side to this dish. I separated it into bite-sized pieces as I would with cauliflower or broccoli, and then placed it on a baking dish with salt, pepper, and grape seed oil. During the twenty minutes it took to brown the meat I roasted my little romanesco trees at 425 F. When it was time to prepare the chickpeas I removed the romanesco from the oven and set it aside. The chickpeas need about five minutes of preparation on the stove, and then the entire dish goes in the oven for 20-25 minutes. With only five minutes left of roasting, I grated a thin layer of Parmesan over the romanesco and popped it back into the oven to melt and brown.

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Once plated, the entire dish is sprinkled with fresh, chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. This final step brightens the dish and creates a tart contrast to the richness of the harissa. This delicious meal is packed with protein, so it’s deeply satisfying. Enjoy this deceptively easy, wintery meal!

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Pan-Roasted Chicken with Harissa Chickpeas

Bon Appétit            recipe by Dawn Perry

 

Rosemary & Garlic Chicken

Some nights I want a home cooked meal without a lot of fuss. A whole roast chicken can take some prep work, but if you’re just roasting chicken breasts you can turn it into a quick and easy weeknight meal. My go-to version is a simple garlic and rosemary combination. Rosemary is a hearty herb, so you can find it fresh and full of flavor year round. I typically roast four pieces of chicken at a time so I have enough for leftovers.

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The process is straightforward. Preheat your oven to 350, or 375 if you’re hungry. Use your fingers to gently separate the skin from the meat of the breast, or if you prefer, cut small incisions into the meat to create pockets for your garlic and herbs. The goal is to get slivers of raw garlic and fresh rosemary right up next to the skin. I typically use about two cloves of garlic and one stem of rosemary per chicken breast, but that’s just my preference. Then generously season the chicken with salt and pepper and drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top to help the skin brown and the meat stay moist. Roasting times depend on how much meat you’re roasting, so I rely on a meat thermometer for tender, juicy chicken. Mine is often ready to eat in 30-45 minutes. Even though it takes some time to roast, it takes very little time or effort in the kitchen. If you’re not a fan of rosemary, there are a lot of tried-and-true delicious combinations for roast chicken. For this week’s version I used up some of the three-herb butter I had frozen after Thanksgiving. What flavorful butter! It sank into the meat and I could taste it with every bite.

When it goes in the oven I prepare my sides. Sometimes I throw a garnet yam wrapped in foil in the oven on a rack below the chicken. Other times I prepare some rice cooked in chicken broth and 1 TBSP of butter, tossed with fresh parsley just before serving. In the summer I was steaming baby potatoes and tossing them with some butter, salt, pepper, and fresh chives from the garden. Broccoli and green beans are delicious steamed and easy to prepare. They cook so quickly that sometimes I wait for my chicken to come out of the oven before I start steaming the vegetables, which also gives the meat a few minutes to rest. All told this meal can take me as little as 15 minutes of “active time” in the kitchen. It’s healthy, it’s hearty, and it’s hard to mess up. Perfect for a weeknight meal!

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