Recipes for Chicken Breasts and Whole or Spatchcocked Chicken

Breast of Chicken with Watercress Sauce and Broad Beans

This delicate and light Chicken in Watercress sauce with Broad Beans is a beautiful vibrant green and its colour alone shouts out how healthy and wholesome it is.  An absolutely delicious chicken dish for Summer.

4 chicken breasts

Small drop olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

3 tbsps. double cream

4 tbsps. dry vermouth (or apple juice)

150g frozen broad beans, de-frosted and

               popped out of their grey skins

1 pkt. watercress

  • Swirl a drop of olive oil around a frying pan with a lid, pop in the chicken breasts, top side downwards and cook gently for two minutes

  • Turn the breasts over, clamp on the lid and continue to cook very gently for 10-12 minutes.  

  • Remove the breasts and transfer with their juices into a bowl.  Cover the bowl immediately with cling film to trap the steam inside.  Keep the bowl of chicken in a warm not hot place. (Store in the fridge after cooling if you are preparing ahead).

  • Gently sweat the onion with a pinch of salt and a touch more oil if it is needed, in the chicken pan until translucent

  • Add the cream to the pan and bubble up.  It will thicken almost at once

  • When the cream has thickened, add the vermouth (or apple juice) and bubble for a couple of minutes

  • Reserve a few sprigs of watercress for garnish and chop the rest, stalks and all

  • Add the delicious juices which will have accumulated around the chicken breasts in the bowl to the sauce and thickly slice the breasts.

  • Just before serving, heat the sauce through again if necessary, stir in the watercress and the broad beans.  Season to taste.

  • Pour over the chicken breasts to serve.  

Helpful Hints and Avoiding Stumbles

It's a bit of a fiddle popping the beans out of their skins, but so worth it for colour and flavour.

If using fresh beans, boil and cool in very cold water before popping the beans.  Keep them in the fridge to preserve the vibrant green colour.

 

Cook the breasts only on a gentle heat to avoid the outside of the breasts becoming tough and dry.  They should only take 10 minutes or so to cook provided your pan isn't crowded.

 

Prepare the first 6 steps ahead and store in the fridge if you wish.  To re-heat the chicken you

can either slice it and drop it into the warm sauce to heat through, or slip the whole breasts 

wrapped in foil into a warm oven to re-heat.  However, watch out, they will cook on and dry out very easily. 

 

It is important to add the watercress and beans at the last moment to retain the delicate peppery

taste of the watercress as well as its beautiful colour

Fragrant Coconut Curried Chicken

This is not a hot curry, the gently Fragrant Coconut Chicken is softly delicate and, as I said in my introduction, I could eat this delectable chicken by the bucketful unfortunately. 

 

The sauce and rice alone are wonderful (which is useful if you are a bit tight for chicken) and I find it has a shameful appeal to me for breakfast, but perhaps I have always been a bit of a food reprobate. 

Marinade:

3 fat cloves of garlic, crushed

2 tbsps. olive oil

1 tbsp. root ginger, grated

2 tsps. lemon grass paste (from a tube)

1 tsp. turmeric

1.5cm squeeze chilli paste (from a tube)

1 tsp. ground coriander

5 chicken breasts (or chicken thigh fillets)

2 onions, finely chopped

1 tsp. medium curry powder

1 400ml tin coconut milk

Salt and Pepper

Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

  • Put all the marinade ingredients into a bowl and stir together

  • Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and add it to the bowl.  Roll it around in the fairly dry marinade so that it becomes well coated.  Leave in the fridge to absorb the flavours for an hour or so if you can (longer if  you wish, of course).

  • Sweat the finely chopped onion with a pinch of salt and a drop of olive oil in a large pan until soft and translucent.

  • Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking any loose marinade back into the bowl.  Keep the chicken to one side for a moment

  • Scrape all the marinade from the bowl into the onions, add the curry powder and turmeric and cook on a gentle to medium heat for a minute or two, stirring constantly.

  • Add the coconut milk, return everything to a gentle boil and slip in the chicken.  Cover with a lid and simmer everything gently together until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.

  • Check the seasoning and stir in the chopped coriander to serve

Helpful Hints and Avoiding Stumbles

I describe the garlic as crushed but since discovering the delights of a good quality grater, I always grate it in, so much simpler.

Serve with Basmati rice

This freezes well

Breast of Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes, Sweet Basil and Vermouth

Light, clean and healthy, this is the perfect chicken dish for Summer. 

If you don't have vermouth which has an almost herby quality, use white wine.  Serve this quick and easy to prepare chicken with a colourful salad.

4 chicken breasts

1 dsp. olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

8 tbsps. approx. dry vermouth

1 tbsp. double cream

8 (approx.) cherry tomatoes

Small handful fresh basil 

Salt and Pepper

  • Heat a small drop of olive oil in a frying pan with a lid (I use a non stick wok with a lid because I'm a bit of a clumsy worker)

  • Add the chicken breasts to the pan top side down and cook gently for barely two minutes - too much colour toughens the outside of the breasts - then turn them over, clamp on the lid and turn the heat down.  Continue to cook gently with the lid on for a further 10 minutes or so, cooking time will vary according to the size of the breasts.  Resist the temptation to lift the lid and poke about because you want to keep the steam inside the pan to help the moist cooking process.

  • Slip the chicken breasts with their juices into a bowl and cover it with cling film to trap the steam inside.

  • Add a drop more of the oil to the chicken pan and sweat the onion with a pinch of salt until translucent.

  • Add the generous glug of vermouth to the pan and bubble for a couple of minutes to cook off the alcohol.

  • Add the double cream and bubble again

  • Thickly slice the chicken and slip it into the sauce with the delicious juices which will have accumulated in the bowl.

  • Add the tomatoes

  • Just before serving, roughly chop or tear the basil leaves, stir most of it into the sauce and sprinkle the remainder over the top

Helpful Hints and Avoiding Stumbles

Take care when cooking chicken breasts, better to have them pale, succulent and soft than browned but dry.  Even on a low heat, the breasts will cook in a covered pan really quite quickly.

The juices which accumulate in the bowl around the chicken are precious, flavourful and will turn to jelly as they cool.  Save any left over for another occasion.

I prefer to peel the tomatoes, but of course this isn't necessary.

 

The taste of the basil will quickly disappear if you add it too early.

Smoky Paprika Chicken Suitable for Butterflying (Spatchcocking) or Roasting

This combination of flavours is absolutely delicious. 

 

Here I have used chicken thighs, but a butterflied or spatchcocked chicken would be even better. 

 

For a flavourful whole bird simply allow the coconut oil and paprika marinade to cool and solidify in the fridge then, using your fingers, carefully lift the chicken skin away from the breast and gently push as much of the fragrant coconut oil between the skin and the flesh of the bird as you can. 

 

Smear any remaining oil all over the rest of the chicken

A spatchcocked bird may be cooked on the barbecue as well as in the oven.

Marinade: Double the quantity for a whole bird

2 tbsps. coconut oil

3 cloves garlic, crushed

3 heaped tsps. smoked paprika

1 tsp. cayenne

Grated zest and juice of a lime

6 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on, excess skin trimmed.   Oven 200c, gas 6

  • Put everything apart from the chicken into a small saucepan and heat gently until the spices become fragrant.

  • Put the chicken into a bowl (or a roasting pan for the butterflied chicken) and pour over the fragrant oil.

  • Cover and leave the chicken to absorb the flavours as long as possible, preferably over night.

  • Rub away and discard the now solid marinade (but see the introduction above for a whole chicken).  Transfer to a snugly fitting roasting pan

  • Bake the thighs in the oven for around 35 to 40 minutes (probe temperature of 74c should be reached).  A butterflied chicken, depending on its size, should take approx. 40-45 minutes in the oven, or 20 minutes per side on the barbecue.

How to Spatchcock or Butterfly a Chicken

Be careful, raw chicken juices may ooze from the bird during this process.

  • Place the chicken on a chopping board breast side down (ie meaty side down) with its legs facing towards you.

  • Using sturdy kitchen scissors, cut close to the backbone all the way along it, from the tail end to the neck.

  • Repeat with the other side of the backbone, also cutting from front to back

  • The breastbone has to be broken in order to flatten the bird, so press down firmly on both wings until you hear the bone crack

  • Turn the bird over to meaty side up and press down hard to flatten it further if necessary

  • Remove the wing tips.

Gently Spiced Chicken with Pomegranate Molasses

6 chicken thighs OR 4 chicken breasts OR 1 butterflied bird (you may have to increase the quantity of marinade for a whole bird)

Marinade:

2 tbsps. olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 big tbsps. pomegranate molasses

Juice of 1 orange

1 tbsp. brown sugar

1 big tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. chilli puree (from a tube)

Gently Spiced Chicken with Pomegranate Molasses

Suitable for butterflied or spatchcocked whole chicken, chicken breasts or thighs

Delicious served with a watercress, red onion, pistachio and pomegranate seed salad or a salad of beetroot, puy lentils, wild rice and pomegranate seeds and, importantly in my mind, a generous bowl of seasoned Greek yoghurt with finely grated garlic and lots of chopped fresh mint leaves stirred into it.

Oven 200c, gas 6

  • Mix the marinade ingredients together, thoroughly coat the chicken with it and leave in the fridge to absorb the flavours over night if possible, or as long as you can.

To Cook the Thighs:​

  • Put the thighs in a single layer in a snugly fitting roasting pan and pour over the marinade.

  • Cook in the oven at 200c for 40-45 minutes.  The juices should run clear.

 

To Cook Breasts:​

  • Lift the breasts out of the marinade and transfer, top side downwards first, to a griddle pan or frying pan just slicked with a drop of oil

  • Cook gently on the hob for around 6-8 minutes each side, until cooked through

 

To Cook a Spatchcocked or Butterflied Bird:​

  • Transfer to a roasting pan, trickle over any remaining marinade and roast in the oven at 200c

  • for approximately 40-45 minutes until the bird is cooked through.

Helpful Hints and Avoiding Stumbles

The marinade on the chicken will crust and blacken very easily, as you will see from my photograph of breasts.  I actually love this, but if you want to avoid it happening, shake the marinade off the chicken breasts before cooking.

The Watercress, Red Onion, Pomegranate Seed and Pistachio Salad: Slice the red onion as thinly as possible.  You could substitute spring onions, but the pretty colour combination would be lost; similarly you could substitute a different nut, but the pink and green of pistachios seems perfect for this pretty dish.

The cooked chicken will show 74c when probed.

 

Speedy Glazed Balsamic and Ginger Chicken Breasts

This simple but tasty Glazed Balsamic and Ginger Chicken is perfect for a quick mid-week meal.  It's the recipe to fall upon at those times when you have little energy for cooking because these chicken breasts can be glossily on your plate and ready to eat just 20 minutes after you stepped into the kitchen.

2 tbsps. olive oil

3 tbsps. balsamic vinegar

2 tbsps. light soy sauce (I use Kikkoman)

3 cloves garlic, grated

2cm fat piece of root ginger, grated

1 good tsp. mango chutney 

4 chicken breasts.

(If you don't have mango chutney use brown sugar)

  • Put all the ingredients except the chicken into a bowl and stir together

  • Add the chicken to the bowl and jiggle it around so that it becomes thoroughly covered in the liquid.  (The chicken could at this point be left in the fridge to absorb the flavours for several hours, but it doesn't matter if not)

  • Tip everything from the bowl into a frying pan and cook fairly gently for about 10 minutes, turning the breasts over once

  • Lift out the chicken, transfer to a clean bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rest for 5 minutes or so

  • Bubble up the marinade in the pan to thicken.  Now that the chicken has been removed it will become glossy and sticky very quickly.

  • Thickly slice the chicken breasts, return the chicken to the pan together with any juices which might have accumulated around the chicken whilst resting and shuffle the chicken around to coat it glossily in the delicious sticky sauce.

  • Whizz all the marinade ingredients together until smooth using a hand stick blender or food processor.

  • Transfer to a bowl which is large enough to take the chicken as well

  • Cut the chicken breasts into thick fingers, or halve each thigh fillet.   Submerge the chicken in the marinade and leave to absorb the flavours for an hour or two, better still over night.

  • Tip the whole lot into a saucepan and simmer over a gentle heat on the hob for 10 minutes or so until completely cooked.

  • Cut into bite sized pieces if serving as a canapé or arrange on a serving plate, drizzle over a little plain yoghurt and cast over sonme stems of coriander to serve.

Indonesian Chicken

I first used this wonderfully aromatic chicken years ago for canapés and was thrilled by its delicacy, whilst being flavourful and utterly delicious. 

 

Little green morsels of Indonesian Chicken on a stick are good enough to stop even the loudest guest as a party mid-sentence. 

 

The idea originally came from Jennifer Joyce and Victoria Blashford-Snell's wonderful book, Diva Cooking, but the recipe has evolved considerably over the years.

4 chicken breasts/8 boneless skinless chicken thigh fillets, fat trimmed

Marinade:

Generous tsp. lemon grass paste (from a tube)

2 finely chopped onions

5 fat cloves of garlic, grated

2 tbsps. grated root ginger

1 tsp. garam masala

2 heaped tsps. medium curry powder

Generous handful of coriander, stalks included

1 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tbsp. Thai fish sauce

400ml tin coconut milk (full fat)

Helpful Hints

This is good and quick on the barbecue

Flatten with care any very thick parts of the chicken fillets by bashing with something heavy

Best cooked and eaten on the same day, but may be prepared in advance and kept marinating in the fridge for 24 hours.  This will freeze.

Breast of Chicken with Squash, Sweet Potato and Taleggio

 

Rich and indulgent, comfort food for dark and chilly Autumn days.

1 sweet potato

Half a butternut squash (or pumpkin)

2 tbsps. oil

3 chicken breasts

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic

80ml dry vermouth (or white wine)

300ml double cream

200g Taleggio

Handful panko crumbs

Handful sesame seeds

Handful freshly grated Parmesan

Oven 200c

 

  • Peel the squash and sweet potato, cut into chunks, roll in a little oil and oven bake for about 30 minutes until soft.  Transfer to an ovenproof dish large enough to take the chicken as well

  • Put the chicken into a frying pan with the remaining oil and cook gently for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not brown the breasts; they will be covered in sauce and browning = toughening the breasts.  Rest to one side when the breasts are cooked.

 

  • Put the chopped onions into the chicken pan with a pinch of salt (add more oil if you need it) and gently fry the onion until it is opaque then grate in the garlic.

  • Add the vermouth and bubble hard to reduce by at least half, perhaps a little more.

  • When the vermouth has reduced, add the cream and bubble this too until the sauce becomes fairly thick.  This should happen quite quickly.  Taste and season the sauce.

  • Thickly slice the rested chicken breasts and put the slices on top of the squash and sweet potato then pour all the sauce over the lot.

  • Slice the Taleggio as thinly as you can and spread or dot it all over the top.

 

  • Mix together the panko crumbs, sesame seeds and grated parmesan and sprinkle over.

 

  • Bake in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes until golden and bubbling.