Saturday, February 11, 2006

Chicken Breasts on a Bed of Leeks, Carrots & Asparagus

An easy, breezy dinner tonight. Clay lit a camp fire and we sat at its edge, toasty warm, our dinner plates illuminated both by the light of the fire and the almost full moon. For the past week our north coast days have been sunny and balmy. Nights have been getting brighter and brighter as the moon waxes toward fullness. The frogs are croaking in full froggy orchestral splendor and you'd think spring had already sprung. This has local folks talking and wondering - will it rain again, topping our already 63 inches? This isn't our usual week-long-January-spell-of-sunshine followed by more gloomy winter. We already had that. This is different. This is like...Spring! And while it's true that in our part of the world the groundhog, if we had one, would not have seen his or her shadow on Feb. 2nd, meaning spring is just around the corner, this is just a bit spooky, it being Feb. 11th and all. Lawn mowers and weed whackers can be heard daily as folks take advantage of the dry spell to clip the fast-growing grasses and budding berry canes, and the tension is building as we wait to see what Mother Nature has up her sleeve.

Oh yeah, dinner. Clay decided that I'll have to make this again and remember to take a photo. When I do, I'll put it on this post. 'Til then, here's the recipe. This will feed two hungry people or four not so hungry people. Adjust accordingly for fewer or more-er. Note: The photos were added on 2/27/06. The grains you see on the plate are available at Trader Joe's and are called Brown Rice Medley, or at Indian Harvest Specialtifoods and called Black Pearl Medley . It's a mixture of brown rice, black barley and daikon radish seeds. They are especially good steamed with vegetable broth.

4 leeks, white and pale green part only, cleaned, cut in half lengthwise then crosswise on the diagonal into 1/2-inch thick pieces
4 carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, cut on the diagonal into 1 inch pieces
Kosher salt and fresh ground tellicherry pepper
Olive oil

More olive oil
2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1-2 teaspoons Golden Whisk Pomegranates au Merlot sauce
1 heaping tablespoon frozen orange-pineapple juice concentrate - not reconstituted
Kosher salt and freshly ground tellicherry pepper

Set oven to 350.
Drizzle a small amount of olive oil into a small roasting pan. Place the cut leeks and carrots in the pan, sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper, drizzle with just a bit more olive oil and shake the pan to mix it all up. Cover pan with foil and place in oven for about 20 minutes. Remove foil and add asparagus. Put back in the oven without the foil for 12 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add a bit of olive oil. Before the oil reaches the smoking point, add the chicken breasts, sprinkle with salt and pepper and sear until nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Turn over and brown the other sides, adding more salt and pepper, another 5 minutes. Using tongs, place the chicken pieces on top of the veggies and put back into the oven, maintaining the temperature.

Maintaining heat at medium-high, de-glaze the skillet with the chicken broth, scraping up the browned bits of chicken. Add the pomegranate au merlot sauce and the frozen orange-pineapple juice and boil, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Quickly pour the sauce over the chicken breasts and vegetables that have been finishing in the oven and you're done.

The carrots and leeks melt into sweet, caramelized goodness; the still bright green asparagus giving just a bit of crunch. Juicy chicken breasts add their own note of tender flavor and the sauce (don't look at me like that... orange-pineapple juice concentrate - still frozen - just do it) is truly wonderful. Get that campfire going and fill up your plates.

1 comment:

  1. People have been telling me that they've had trouble leaving a comment on my blog.
    I've changed the settings so one does not have to be a blog user to leave a comment. Simply click on "post a comment" which is at the bottom of any page, a pop-up window will appear with a comment box. Write your message,including your name. Scroll down and click anonymous in the "choose an identity" section, type in the mystery word and click "publish your comment". Blogger will send it to my email for my approval (like I wouldn't!) and then it will appear on the blog.
    I hopes this helps.


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