Food & Drink

I'm Chris - or Christopher - or Mr. Dean - or Master Christopher - or just plain Sir. I'm a self-professed foodie. I love to cook and I take great pleasure in all things edible. My husband and I are relatively new to Portland, Oregon and are enjoying our culinary explorations of the area!

Food is NOT just fuel!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Chicken & Vegetables "in a bag"

This is another of my go-to comfort meals.  This past week was particularly stressful at work, and I was really looking forward to starting the weekend.  Although long before the meal was prepared, a certain person from a certain publishing company kicked off my weekend with a certain generous gesture.  You know who you are.  

Small creamery potatoes
The idea of this meal is that you can use any kind of vegetables you want.  Root vegetables work great because they can handle the roasting time in the oven.  And after not really eating much all day, and then swimming some laps at the YMCA, I was unfortunately shopping with my stomach and grabbed a LOT.

Cipollini Onions
So don't stick to my recipe - if, for instance, you're not a fan of cipollini onions, then cut them and use sugar snap peas instead.  If you can't find broccolini, use asparagus.  It's really whatever is available and whatever you think tastes great.  

"Bag" opened right out of the oven
The meal steams itself inside an aluminum foil "bag", so once the prep work is done, there's nothing to do but sit back and wait for the timer (although I tend to cook with my nose - specifically when something is in the oven - when you begin to really smell it, it's just about done).  And this is one of those recipes where a skinless, boneless breast of chicken turns out moist, delicious and full of flavor!

Ingredients (this is what I used for 2 bags, everything split in half for each bag)
1-2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts per bag (depending on the size, I used 2 small ones each)
1 bag small creamery potatoes, both red & white 
1 red bell pepper, chopped 
5 cipollini onions, whole (3 for me, 2 for my husband)
1 large carrot, chopped
10 small baby bella mushrooms, cleaned & whole
2 parsnips, peeled & chopped
1 bunch broccolini, whole
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2-3 whole dried chiles (optional for added heat)
Salt & pepper
Olive oil
2 ice cubes
Optional:  2 tablespoons butter

First you need to prep your onions - since I always prefer cipollini onions whole (roasted by themselves they're even amazing), I always peel off as little of the skin as possible.  Drop them into some boiling water for 1-2 minutes until the skin starts to loosen, then pull them out and drop them into an ice water bath.  The skin should pull right off, and you'll have some lovely & naked onions.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  On a flat surface, lay out one large piece of aluminum foil.  In the center, sprinkle a little salt & pepper.  Place the chicken right in the center and sprinkle a little salt over the top.  Place 2 thyme sprigs on top of the chicken breast.  Begin piling on your vegetables - I like to put heavy root vegetables close to the chicken, and more delicate vegetables on top.  Here was the order I piled the vegetables (they will fall around the sides - just keep everything as contained on and around the chicken as best as possible): potatoes, red pepper, carrots, onions, mushrooms, parsnips, broccolini.  If you want to add the dried chiles, then simply place them in and around the mixture - no need to break them up, you'll get a hint of heat with them whole.  Drizzle olive oil over the mixture, and sprinkle with salt & pepper.  To allow for additional steam, I place 1 ice cube on top of the content in each bag.  You could, instead, use a small knob of butter for some additional flavor.

Fold the foil and roll it down to seal in the contents.  Make sure the sides are sealed as well.  Once the bag is sealed, I generally use another piece of foil to double-wrap the entire meal.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 50 minutes to an hour.  The vegetables should be tender, and the chicken should be cooked all the way through.  There will be a LOT of juice at the bottom, which you certainly want to capture and serve with the meal.  I serve this in a pasta bowl and it works great.  Pull out all of the contents (be careful of the steam when you first open the bag), and pour the juices over top.  As you're eating, be sure to pull out the thyme sprigs and dried chiles (if you used them).

A great addition to this would be whole (or halved) garlic cloves.  They would be delicious and would add great flavor.

1 comment:

  1. I'm enjoying perusing this your new blog, Chris. Great format & interesting entries. You should get a gig/contract with some NYC TV station to do "Cooking with Christopher"?!