Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Glazed and confused

I wanted to make salad. Chicken and spinach salad. Thrown together with whatever was available and not completely disastrous looking at the 24 hour supermarket on the way home. Sweet potato, orange and earthy. Giant mushrooms. With walnuts. And roast capsicum. And fetta cheese dressing. Maybe olives? Just something really quick, really simple. Week night: long day.

I am easily distracted at times.

Glass of wine. Maybe caramelise the walnuts? With orange rind? That would use up the orange that’s been sitting in the fruit bowl since I decided a few days ago that I needed more vitamin C (you have to eat them, not just buy them ...)

Then – balsamic vinegar. Something a bit sour to balance the caramel? With mushrooms? Roasted in the balsamic vinegar. I overcooked the sweet potato. So I pureed it. With olive oil.

Just pan fry the chicken. Easy. Then – why not add fennel seeds? Then – why not add the juice of the orange? Instant glaze.

Much like my expression.

This does not look like salad.

Orange and fennel glazed chicken with balsamic roast mushrooms and sweet potato puree.

Serves 2

For the puree sweet potato, cook the 300 gms sweet potato (I peeled, dice and blanch) until soft.

Mash with enough olive oil to make a smooth yet thick puree, and set aside.

Balsamic roast mushrooms

These mushrooms are great with salad, accompanying meat or as a killer vegetarian main served with white bean puree.

Olive oil
2 large flat field mushrooms
Balsamic vinegar

Pre heat oven to moderate (180Âșc). Oil a baking dish. Place mushrooms stalk up in baking dish, drizzle ½ balsamic vinegar into each mushroom. Roast for about ½ hour until soft but not falling apart.

Orange and fennel glazed chicken

2 tsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts, skin off
1 ½ tsp fennel seeds
Juice of 1 orange

Heat olive oil in a non stick pan. Add chicken breasts and cook on one side for about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn breast over. Add fennel seeds. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add orange juice. Move the chicken around in the juice to coat, then turn over and coat on the other side. The juice will turn sticky and make the chicken shiny. Turn off the heat and cover (this will keep the chicken warm until serving).

Caramelised walnuts

¾ cup walnuts
2 tsp icing sugar
Rind of 1 orange, finely grated
Pinch of salt + pepper
½ cup oil (I use olive oil, but vegetable or canola would also work)

Blanch walnuts in boiling water for 3-4 minutes (this softens them a little – makes them soft in the middle and crispy on the outside after you finish caramelising them).

Drain and shake off excess water. Toss through with icing sugar, rind and salt and pepper.

Heat about 1.5cm oil in a small pan until bubbly. Add coated walnuts and fry for about 1-2 minutes until browning and crispy. Drain off oil and cool. (this can be done in advance – the walnuts store in an air tight container for about a week. They make a pretty good snack too).

To serve – place a dollop of sweet potato puree on a plate, top with chicken and mushroom, scatter with caramelised walnuts. Serve alongside a green salad.

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