11 January 2011

Strawberry Mustard Chicken with Roasted Cauliflower

I've joined another food-blog website, called Tasty Kitchen and headed by the indomitable Pioneer Woman. Browsing through the recipes, I found a raspberry dijon chicken, which sounded fascinating - but not quite right for me as it is. For one thing, it's not difficult enough. And I don't have a barbeque. And it doesn't have a sauce! What's wrong with the world? I had to fix this.

And so I thought for a day or so, and came up with: strawberry (I don't have raspberry jam) mustard chicken, roasted in the oven with cauliflower, with a red wine gravy made from the juices. The strawberry/mustard glaze risked being far too sweet, particularly as I originally conceived this dish as a summery take on shepherd's pie (which I may still do later in the year), so I needed something slightly bitter to balance everything out. And thank god for that cauliflower in the freezer. I enjoyed cooking this, though my camera battery died when I went to take a picture of the glazed chicken breasts nestled in a bed of blanched cauliflower pre-roasting, so there's no proof of how easy it was. Sorry!

I served ours with rice, and it was delicious. Tom wasn't a huge fan of roasting cauliflower, as he felt that it spoiled the usually-crunchy texture of the vegetable too much. If you dried the florets thoroughly after blanching, and roasted them in a pan on their own with more oil, they might have gone crispy to make up for this huge disappointment - but that's too much work for a 10pm meal. I, on the other hand, thought it was delicious. I love cauliflower even though I find it a hint too bitter sometimes, but the roasting seemed to draw out the flavour rather than the metallic sourness of the vegetable. It still balanced the possibly-too-sugary fruitiness wonderfully, but without making anyone wince.

Regarding substitutions: obviously I've not tried any myself, having only cooked the original dish about fourteen hours ago, but I can imagine that different meats would react differently to the glaze. Chicken breasts just soak up flavour rather than adding any of their own, so it was a good one to start out with. Chicken thigh might not be as forgiving. Beef would be superb with this, at least in my mind - you wouldn't have to add the cauliflower because of the beef's own bitterness, and the red wine gravy would do wonders for it as well. Also, I can imagine a stupendous vegetarian version, or simply glazing the cauliflower and calling it a side dish. Let me know if you try anything different!

Funnily enough, this meal is really quite easy. And it sounds impressive! Cook it now - with or without chicken.

Strawberry Mustard Chicken with Roasted Cauliflower
(Printable Recipe)
Serves 2

Half a head of cauliflower
3 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon jam (mine was strawberry)
1 tablespoon mustard
(basically you want 1 teaspoon of each per breast)
1/2 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon gravy powder
1 cup red wine
1 pinch each chilli powder and cinnamon
1 teaspoon parsley

Break the cauliflower into small florets and put in a pan of boiling water on a high heat for five minutes. In the meantime, mix jam, mustard and oil in a bowl and add seasoning. Cover each chicken breast in the glaze, place in an oven-proof tray large enough to hold the chicken and cauliflower, and drizzle any left over on top.

Drain the cauliflower and nestle around the chicken. Cover liberally with oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 180 degrees (360 Fahrenheit) for thirty minutes. In the meantime, prepare your side dish (I just put rice on to boil and went back to the very important business of sitting around doing nothing.)

When the chicken, cauliflower and rice are cooked, serve and keep warm. Put the roasting tray on the hob on a low heat and stir to loosen all the sticky bits. Sprinkle one tablespoon of gravy powder into the pan and stir, followed by a cup of red wine. Add small pinches of chilli and cinnamon, one tablespoon of parsley, and stir until slightly thickened and hot. There isn't too much of the sauce but it is very flavoursome - you don't need much. Pour over the chicken and some of the rice, and eat.