Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Miso-Marinated Chicken Breasts and Roasted Japanese Sweet Potatoes with Scallion Butter

For the record, Alex rocks.  Sometimes my job explodes and I basically disappear.  I would say that it's like magic, only the use of the word "magic" makes it sound fun and exciting when it is often exhausting for both of us.  Last Sunday he did the laundry, made us both dinner and cleaned up after dinner while I was on an epic conference call for work from 6:00 pm to nearly midnight.  And that's after I basically worked all evening on Saturday as well.  He also made me this Red Cabbage Salad with Warm Pancetta-Balsamic Dressing for lunch.  I picked out all of the recipes and bought most of the ingredients, but he handled everything else and there is a lot to be said for a meal magically appearing in front of me while I tap away at my laptop.  It's pretty awesome.  This meal started with the Japanese sweet potatoes that I picked up at a little Japanese deli near my office.  Once I had the sweet potatoes I needed to figure out what to do with them.  This sweet potato recipe seemed like a perfectly simple recipe to feature the Japanese sweet potatoes but not drown them in sugar and other stuff.  And the chicken naturally followed.  If we were making a miso-scallion butter for the sweet potatoes, why not marinate the chicken breasts in miso and aromatics? 

In some ways this dish was exactly what I needed to get me through that conference call.  It was warm, conforting and had good flavor.  It was also easy to eat one-handed (and relatively easy for Alex to prepare on his own).  I really liked the combination of miso-scallion butter with the sweet potatoes.  The delicate sweetness of the sweet potatoes worked really nicely with the savory butter.  I was surprised by how the texture of the sweet potatoes differed from the American sweet potatoes that I am used to.  The flesh was a little drier and starchier (which required more butter than I typically use with sweet potatoes).  I also liked the marinade for the chicken and was pleasantly surprised by how much flavor the chicken picked up.  I could imagine using these chicken breasts in a number of dishes.  They would be delicious either in a salad or a sandwich.  They were also quite nice as a stand alone entree.  They didn't have any noticable heat to them, but I was ok with that.  I think that the addition of more Korean red pepper flakes would have detracted from the overall comforting quality of the dish.  And after hour 3 of my conference call I was dying for some comfort.

Recipes after the jump!

Miso-Marinated Chicken Breasts
2 tbsp white miso
1 1/2 tsp light sesame oil
2 tsp ginger, minced
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Korean red pepper flakes

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb total)
2 tsp vegetable oil

Stir together miso, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large mixing bowl.  Add chicken breasts.  Chill, covered, 1 to 2 hours.  Remove chicken from fridge about 30 minutes prior to cooking.  Remove chicken from marinade and discard excess marinade.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken breasts until no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes per side. 


Roasted Japanese Sweet Potatoes with Scallion Butter
November 2007

8 small slender Japanese or Garnet sweet potatoes (4 to 5 pounds total)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, well softened
1 1/2 tablespoons miso paste (preferably white)
3 tablespoons finely chopped scallion

Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in upper third.

Prick potatoes all over with a fork and put on a foil-lined large baking sheet. Bake until very soft when squeezed, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

While potatoes bake, stir together butter, miso, and scallion until combined.

Slit hot potatoes lengthwise and, using oven mitts, push in sides to puff up potato. Serve with some scallion butter in center of each and with additional scallion butter on the side.

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