Sunday, November 26, 2006

Roasted chicken breast with lemony Bombay potatoes

A confession: I love chicken. I could probably eat it every day and in my teenage years I did - I insisted on having for lunch on every school day, sandwiches made with those pre-roasted chicken breasts that cost a small fortune at the time in Sainsburys. That stopped when I went to university and realized that I had developed a habit that was much too expensive for my student budget. My chicken obsession has never really gone away but it has been moderated by my growing taste for other foods; I have also become increasingly aware of the horrific conditions in which battery chickens live and have switched to free-range or organic, which necessarily means eating less chicken because it is twice the price. Anyway yesterday we went to York for the day - it was the St Nicholas Fayre, an annual four-day event with food and Christmas gifts on sale around the market square; mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and carol singers. When we arrived, it was less than festive: the rain was pouring down and everyone was sporting an umbrella like a weapon, so that as you advanced slowly through the assembled throngs, you had to beware of having your eye poked out by a passing umbrella spike. Trolley rage has nothing on umbrella rage. The weather, thankfully, cleared up; we managed a nice lunch in Cafe Rouge and a good mooch around the shops. I found a lovely chocolatiers shop and bought some little Christmas presents there, and I found several bookshops as well as a cardigan in Mango and trousers in Next (both black, the cardigan short with pretty buttons, both for work) and then we went to the market and tasted a few cheeses, most of which we ended up buying (and more besides). We walked around most of the day and returned home shattered but happy, eager for a dinner that would be easy but tasty - a sort of TV dinner without the additives. Jamie's roasted chicken breast with lemony Bombay potatoes, made with mainly store-cupboard ingredients, fitted the bill. Jamie included four chicken breast recipes for one person in the book, all one-tray oven-roasted recipes, all easy; I had already made the chicken breast with creamy butternut squash and chilli which was delicious. This dish was slightly more effort as it involved par-boiling potatoes, but it is as easy as can be - a ready meal without the spooky parts. Perfect.

To make it, I peeled and diced some potatoes, brought them to the boil in cold salted water, simmered for a few minutes, drained and allowed to steam in a colander. I put turmeric, lemon zest, ground cumin, chopped coriander, chopped red pepper, and matchsticks of fresh ginger, into a bowl with lemon juice; to the bowl I added skin-on chicken breasts and the potatoes. I tossed the ingredients in the bowl with a splash of olive oil and seasoned, before removing the chicken, putting the potatoes in an oven-proof tray, and topping with lemon slices and chicken (skin up). I drizzled with olive oil and cooked for 25-35 minutes (oven pre-heated to 200).

For a reason that I can't fathom, Jamie's version of this looks orange. In fact, when I first looked at his picture, I thought his potatoes were sweet potatoes or squash, or even carrots, because they look so orange. Mine, as you can see, is decidedly yellow (which is what I would expect from the turmeric...). Anyway the important thing is that ours was delicious, yellow or orange. The potatoes had inhaled the lemon, chilli and spices and had lovely flavour; the chicken was also very tasty from its brief fling with the spices and lemon. All in all, this is a good, easy, homemade version of a ready meal: you can shove it in the oven and do something else, which is just as easy as putting one of those spookily long-lasting readymeals in the oven/microwave. On his recent programme where he welcomed ready-meal junkies to River Cottage, Hugh F-W's scientific analysis of one ready meal found a ground-up beetle inside, which should be enough to put the nation off, but a nosy peek into other people's trollies in Tesco earlier suggests to me that people are still mainlining them. My way of converting them probably would be less extreme (and maybe less effective) than Hugh's, when he had them witness the slaughter of his animals and preparing dead animals from scratch for dinner. I would suggest that people learn to cook their own fast food, their own ready meals - that way you get the best of both worlds: you skip the additives but you still have time to watch The X Factor.


julie said...

I love the colours of this dish!

Ilana said...

This looks great and really easy! Mmmmm.

charlotte said...

I'm making this one TONIGHT! In Germany it's hard to find coriander, especially in winter, but I actually have some and now I know what's for dinner. Thanks, Kathryn.

litlove said...

This does look rather lovely. I've now put Jamie's book on my Christmas wish list! But sometimes I do think his photos a bit misleading. There's a chicken, tomatoes, basil, garlic and chilli casserole of his I make a lot, and it's swimming in liquid in his photo, and yet you add no liquid to the ingredients. How does he do it?

TheGrem said...

Wasn;t the "ground-up beetle" cochineal? Something I rememeber going into a lot of things we ate as kids, as red food dye.

BTW ate curl kale again yesterday and it has redeemed itself. Must be the M-in-Law's cooking!

Kathryn said...

It was an easy and very tasty dinner, so do try it, all.
Litlove - I know what you mean about the pictures. I have just had the same reaction to a yummy lamb dish - has the photographer used a bit of artistic licence??

Anyway it tastes good!

Kathryn x

Ksushenka said...

Maybe it will be good without coriander?
I have no idea where to find fresh coriander now.

I'm hesitating to cook or not to cook... But I would like to try.

Maybe there is way to exchange it with something not fresh\dry?

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