Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Weeknight Roast Chicken and Vegetables

I love a one-pan meal that is quick to make after the work-school-carpool rush midweek, and last night I was in the mood for real food. You know, the kind that doesn't come pre-packaged or with a side of fries.  I didn't start this dish until almost six, and we were done eating by seven.

There are a couple of tricks I used to speed up the cooking. The main one is to cut the meat into smaller cutlets and then use a meat mallet to pound them to an even 1/2" thickness. That also turned two large-ish chicken breasts into about six smaller pieces, giving the kids their own piece and letting my husband and I each choose our portion size.  If you don't want to cut up the chicken you can buy smaller cutlets or boneless skinless chicken tenders.

Another trick is more of a technique than a trick. My frying pans are oven-safe (they have all-metal handles), so I can sear the chicken on the stove top and then finish the cooking in the oven without messing up a second baking dish.  When you take the pan out of the oven at the end, slip on a silicone handle cover or a pot holder over the handle and leave it there so you're not tempted to grab it with a bare hand.

I chose the veggies in this dish by one simple factor: they were what we had in the fridge. Feel free to subsitute something else (carrots, fennel, asparagus, fresh green beans, etc). If you want to roast potatoes, then you may need to adjust your cooking times or start them while you're searing the chicken (celery and peppers still taste good when crisp, potatoes not so much).

  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 3/4-1 pound
  • kosher salt, pepper, olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh thyme (or dried, or rosemary, or a salt-free herb mix, or just stick with salt and pepper)
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 cup white mushrooms
  • 1 red bell pepper
  1. Heat oven to 425.
  2. Chop the veggies into about 1" pieces.
  3. Cut the chicken into about 3-4 pieces each. Cover them with saran wrap and pound with a meat mallet until they are about 1/2" thick.
  4. Dry the chicken breasts with a paper towel and sprinkle each with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
  5. Heat about 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in an oven-proof frying pan on the stove top until shimmering.
  6. Sear both sides of the chicken in the pan until golden brown. Yes, the middles may still be pink.
  7. Add the veggies and herbs to the top of the chicken. I added an extra drizzle of olive oil at this point because my pan was kind of crowded and mushrooms tend to suck up all the oil in the pan.
  8. Place pan in the oven and roast about 5-10 minutes until the meat reads 160 on a meat thermometer.
  9. Remove the pan from the oven and let the dinner rest, covered (with foil or a pan lid) while you set the table.
  10. This is very yummy served with mashed potatoes. Ok, so we had boxed mashed potatoes. Sometimes I can't completely avoid packaged foods on weekenights.

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