Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Pad fried British chicken breast with sautéed vegetables

This is a great recipe for chicken breast, which I absolutely love. Like nearly all of my cooking, it's very simple, although does perhaps require a little more effort than many of the recipes on this site.

First of all, lightly season a chicken breast with salt, freshly ground black pepper and some dried basil. I tend to use dried herbs for this kind of cooking, saving the fresh stuff for use in salads and stuff, where it has more impact.

Then, heat some oil in a pan, you going to want it to be really quite hot to start with, but not quite smoking. Place the seasoned chicken breast into the pan and fry on a high heat on each side until brown. This will take around 2 to 3 minutes for each side. The idea here is to seal in the juices of the meat. Once sealed, turn the heat down and cook for about 20 minutes, turned occasionally. If the chicken breast is really thick or you want it to cook more quickly, then you can 'butterfly' it. To do this, simply cut it length-wise down the middle, but not all the way through, so that you can open it up, in a manner similar to opening a book. This way, the two halves will be thinner and so will cook much more quickly.

While that's cooking, it's time to sauté the vegetables. In this example, I used the most exciting British vegetables I could find. At this time of the year, that includes quite a lot, so I have used red and yellow sweet pepper, courgette, aubergine, mushrooms and spinach. Simply slice and chop all the vegetables, as you would for a stir fry. I fried some chopped onion first and then added the aubergine, followed by the mushrooms, the courgette, the pepper and finally the spinach, waiting for around 2 minutes between each and stirring continuously. I used a good handful of spinach leaves, which looks a lot when you first put it in the pan, but the leaves shrink to a fraction of their original size as they cook. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and some dark soy sauce. Cook for a further 5 minutes or so, stirring regularly.

I find that you can often tell when the chicken breast is cooked through by poking it with a sharp stick, or a fork, whichever is most convenient at the time. The idea is to make a small hole through the skin and into the meat. If the juice that comes out of this hole (you might need to press down on the chicken breast around it) runs clear, then it is probably cooked. Like all recipes, I suggest you try this out just on yourself to begin with, so you can remove the meat from the pan and cut it in half to check. With practice, you'll get it right.

Once everything is cooked, slice the cooked chicken breast into strips and serve on a bed of the sautéed vegetables, with boiled new potatoes. Nice.

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