Work has been super busy (with very exciting, interesting new projects – very lucky to love what I do so much!), so I haven’t had much time to post recently. But, I have several new recipes (and workouts) in the queue that I’ll (hopefully) be posting this week. 🙂
When life is hectic, I like to make meals that are still very flavorful even though they are simple – that way, I don’t get tired of them, even if I eat the same meal a couple times a week. A huge part of the success of a simple recipe is choosing quality ingredients. The food tastes much better, without needing to mask the protein/vegetables with a ton of oil/sauces/etc.
Another key part of successful cooking is choosing spices wisely. I love using different salts – I’ve recently been using fleur de sel and pequin chili salt, but I also love using gray, red and pink salts as well for slight flavor variations. I keep a full stock of Penzey‘s spices on hand (their Indian cumin, toasted onion powder, ancho pepper, and Ceylon cinnamon are favorites, but I love almost everything they sell). Finally, I use a ton of fresh herbs (from Keith’s Farm) – garlic is an essential, but I also pick up the parsley, chocolate mint (3 leaves in a glass of ice cold water or iced coffee == divine), rosemary, tarragon, cilantro, oregano and basil every week. Experimenting with different flavor combinations allows for endless variations on the same recipe – a recent favorite spice blend is a paste formed of 3 fresh garlic cloves with some fennel seeds, fleur de sel, rosemary, and tarragon. It works great on pork and turkey.
My main ingredients almost all come from the Union Square Farmer’s market, but it is getting easier and easier to get high quality protein from most supermarkets. I’ve been getting on-the-bone chicken breasts from Grazin Angus Acres for years (their eggs are also the best I’ve ever tasted and have the darkest, yellow-orange yolks) – the chicken is much more flavorful and stays juicy even when baked in the oven. Recently, I’ve been obsessed with spigarello from the Mountain Sweet Berry Farm. Spigarello is an heirloom varietal of broccoli leaves – it tastes similar to broccoli rabe or other slightly bitter greens. It is bright green, super crisp, and pairs well with red meat, chicken and fish. If you can’t find spigarello, lacinato kale or other similar greens are a great substitute.
Lemon Chicken and Spigarello
Prep Time: 15 min (plus 1-2 hours marinade time)
Cook Time: 60 min
- 6 bone-in chicken breasts (you can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts as well, but may need to add 1T macadamia or avocado oil to the pan when searing them)
- 1 T macadamia nut oil
- 3 meyer lemons
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 sprigs parsley
- 2 T minced chives
- 1/2 minced rosemary
- 1/2 T each salt, pepper, toasted onion powder
- 6 cups spigarello
- 1 tsp macadamia nut oil
- 1 clove garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
(1) Pat the chicken breasts dry and season liberally with salt, pepper and onion powder. Allow the chicken to sit with the spices while you prepare the other ingredients.
(2) Zest one lemon and reserve the lemon juice. Cut the other two lemons into thin slices. Mince the garlic and herbs. Combine the macadamia nut oil, lemon juice, zest, slices, herbs, and an additional 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper and pour over the chicken. I like to use a bag so that I can spread the mixture evenly over the chicken. It also makes way less mess! Put the seasoned chicken into the refrigerator for 1-2 hours or more (you can also do this a day ahead.)
(3) When the chicken is nearly done marinading, heat up a pan on high heat. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. I like to use a Scanpan – they work very well on high heat without everything sticking to the pan. Place the chicken in the pan, bone side up, covered in all the lemon slices and herbs from the marinade. Leave them cooking for 8-10 minutes without touching the chicken. As the chicken begins to cook, they will initially stick to the pan and be hard to flip without a lot of meat/spices sticking to the pan. However, as the outer layer of the chicken sears and browns, it will naturally separate from the pan and be easy to flip without losing any meat. So, no touching, no peeking. 🙂
(4) After 8-10 minutes, flip the chicken and do the same thing on the other side for an additional 10-12 min. The chicken should have a golden brown color, but will still be raw in the middle.
(5) Once the chicken has finished searing on the stovetop, either put the entire pan in the oven (if using an oven-safe pan), or transfer the breasts to a foil-lined baking sheet and cook for an additional 25-30 min on 375. I needed my big pan, so I transferred to a baking sheet – which also is very easy to clean up when lined with two sheets of foil. The lemon should get a nice char and will continue to release juices into the chicken during this final stage of cooking.
(6) While the chicken bakes, you can make the spigarello. Boil about 2 cups of water with 1/2 tsp salt. When the water reaches a boil, throw in the chopped spigarello and blanch for about 3 min (until the leaves turn bright green).
(7) Drain the spigarello and saute on medium high heat with 1 tsp oil for about 3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and garlic and cook for 1 more minute. If you want an extra kick, you can also drizzle the juice of half a lemon over the cooked spigarello.