I was home one afternoon, earlier than usual from work, and wanted to come up with a new and healthy meal for the family. I remembered how I have read that the more colorful foods are usually packed with nutrition (some exceptions are cauliflower, potatoes and bananas) so decided to start with the concept of packing the meal with color. The protein base for the dish was going to be chicken breasts, since they are a blank canvass. I had so much success in the past cooking with chicken breast by browning and then roasting them in the Dutch oven, so I used this method here. But to boost nutrition, I included veggies to get all the colors of the rainbow instead of using just carrots like with my garlic chicken & carrots. Luckily, I had a bag of purple potatoes (a random seasonal event that only happens around this time of year), a bunch of asparagus, a few carrots and a big fat lemon. That combination looked beautiful just sitting on the cutting board so I was sure this would be a winner! Cooking them altogether in the Dutch oven with a lid on top, helped all of the flavors soak in to each other. The squeezed lemon, herbs and shallot generated a wonderful sauce at the base of the Dutch oven. I would definitely make this one again!
4 large carrots
12-18 purple potatoes
Bunch of asparagus
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper
2 large bone-in chicken breasts
1 tsp dried herbs de province
1 large sprig each thyme and rosemary
Clean, peel and cut the carrots into large angled chunks. Scrub and cut the purple potatoes (little ones keep whole, medium sized ones cut in half and large ones cut into 3 chunks). Clean the asparagus and snap off the ends (where they naturally snap tells you how much of the woody ends to remove). Clean and cut the lemon in half, peel and clean the shallot and cut into 3 or 4 large chunks. In a small bowl melt the butter in the microwave, then stir in the olive oil with the butter. In a large bowl toss the carrots, purples potatoes and shallot in half of the butter/oil mixture and season well with freshly ground salt and pepper. In a medium bowl toss the asparagus in half of the remaining butter/oil mixture, also seasoning with salt and pepper.
Clean and trim the excess skin from the chicken breasts, then take one half of the lemon and squeeze juice over the top of both breasts (do not discard the lemon). Pour the remaining butter/oil over or brush onto the chicken breasts top and bottom, then season top and bottom with salt, pepper and dried herbs. Brown the top of the chicken in the bottom of a Dutch oven over medium high heat with the lid off (takes only 3-5 minutes). Turn the chicken breasts over and let it cook on that side for another 2-3 minutes. Dump in the carrots, potatoes and shallot, squeeze the other half of the lemon over everything (use a small strainer to keep out the seeds or squeeze it through your hand to catch the seeds in your palm) and add both pieces of lemon into the pot. Throw in you fresh herb sprigs to add even more flavor. Put on the lid and cook for 20 minutes. Open the lid and toss the potatoes and carrots, then add in the asparagus on top. Put the lid back on and return to the oven for another 15 minutes. Open the lid and mix the veggies around some more and check the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken breast. It has to read at least 165 degrees, then you will know they are ready. Depending on thickness of the chicken breasts it may take another 10 minutes to cook the meat properly.
When ready to serve, remove the chicken to a platter to rest, covering with aluminum foil. Use a slotted spoon to get all the veggies out and onto a platter (discarding the lemon and herbs). IF you want to make a quick sauce, the drippings are already flavored with the herbs and lemon, so you only need add a little chicken stock or white wine. Then add in some ice cubes and shake in Wondra flour to thicken (you want to lower the temperature of the sauce while you thicken with the flour), heat over medium heat for 10 minutes and you are ready to serve.
Tip: If you don’t have ‘Wondra flour’, whisk regular all-purpose flour with equal parts of cold water, and use that to thicken the sauce.
Best served with crusty sour dough bread or brown rice to mop up the sauce