Monday, July 12, 2010

Alex's Roast Chicken Breasts and "Greek" Salad

Since I started a new job today, Alex was in charge of dinner.  Generally this means that after first making sure that we have all of the ingredients, I tell him exactly what he is making and what recipe he is using.  Maybe that makes me a little Type A, but left to his own devices Alex is prone to eating peanut butter crackers for dinner.  However, if I give him a recipe and provide him with the ingredients he is a really good cook.  Now that I started my new job Alex is going to be in charge of a lot of meals as I will be working a lot later than I used to.  Tonight's dinner was a wonderful start.  I told Alex to cook the bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts we had defrosted (rather than the sausage we had also defrosted) and he took it from there.  Alex drew inspiration for our chicken from two chefs - Thomas Keller and Tom Colicchio.  Thomas Keller simply roasts a whole chicken with liberal amounts of salt and pepper and then later bastes it with the pan juices.  Before roasting the chicken he uses absolutely no oil or butter on the skin.  Tom Colicchio, on the other hand, seasons a whole chicken liberally with s&p before searing it in peanut oil on all sides until the skin is golden brown, and then roasting with herbs and butter.  So Alex browned the skin of our chicken breasts in our cast iron, before throwing the pan in the oven and roasting the chicken (adding butter and herbs for the last 5 minutes of roasting time).  After we took the chicken out of the oven we basted it with the butter that was seasoned with rosemary and thyme.  Somehow this chicken was the best roast chicken we have ever made.  The skin was nice and crispy, while the meat remained nice and juicy.  It was really really good.  The next time we make a roast chicken I am going to try this method and see if the results are anywhere near as delicious!

To go with the chicken I threw together a faux Greek salad, or what I am calling a "Greek" Salad.  I threw together all sorts of veggies from the fridge - arugula, flat leaf parsley, grape tomatoes, red onion, English cucumbers, and chickpeas, with some ricotta salata cheese.  Most, if not all, Greek salads use feta, but I really liked the ricotta salata.  Sometimes feta can overwhelm the flavor of all of the other vegetables with its saltiness, so the milder ricotta salata made the salad feel lighter and fresher.  I tossed the salad in a red wine vinaigrette that I threw together at the last minute and voila - an easy, delicious salad that cleaned out our vegetable drawer!

Recipes after the jump!

Alex's Roast Chicken Breasts

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Rinse the chicken and pat dry.  Season the chicken breasts liberally with s&p.  Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet (or other heavy, oven-safe skillet) over medium to medium-high heat.  Add peanut oil.  Once oil is hot, place chicken in the skillet skin-side down.  Brown for about 5 minutes.  Turn the chicken over and place skillet in oven.  Roast chicken for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven, add butter, thyme, and rosemary to the pan.  Swirl the butter around to melt.  Return the pan to the oven.  Roast 5 additional minutes (until chicken juices run clear when you pierce the chicken with a sharp knife).

Remove the chicken from the oven.  Baste chicken with melted butter/pan juices.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

"Greek" Salad

4 oz. baby arugula
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 small red onion, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
15 oz. can chickpeas
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup ricotta salata, crumbled
2 garlic cloves, minced and then ground into a paste with kosher salt
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
3 tbsp evoo

Combine arugula, parsley, onion, chickpeas, tomatoes, and ricotta salata in a large, non-reactive mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together garlic, red wine vinegar, mustard, and evoo.  Season to taste with s&p.

Before serving toss salad with dressing.

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