Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bacon Rosemary Chicken with Maple-Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I read a book recently that I think every food-lover should read. It’s called The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister, and it follows the lives of a group of students in a small cooking class and explores the relationships they create through food. The characters are wonderfully layered, but my favorite parts of the book are the descriptions of the food. Ingredients and dishes are described so gorgeously in such rich, evocative language. (Sorry; I think my English Major showed a little bit there.) It’s a beautiful book.

This meal is a lot like some of the food described in the book: simple ingredients, wonderful aroma, extraordinary flavor. The salty bacon pairs so perfectly with the earthy rosemary. Maple syrup and sweet potatoes are an ideal marriage of flavor and pair wonderfully with the savory chicken. I wish I could make this dish for Erica Bauermeister and have her write out a description of how wonderful it tastes, because she could do a much better job at describing it than I am!

Bacon Rosemary Chicken with Maple-Mashed Sweet Potatoes
adapted from Back to the Cutting Board

For the chicken:

2 to 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup flour
5 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chicken broth

For the potatoes:

3 medium or 2 large sweet potatoes
4 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons heavy cream or half and half
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Fry bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels, set aside. Spoon out excess bacon fat, but leave about 2 tablespoons in the pan.

2. Place flour in a shallow dish and dredge chicken though it, shake to remove excess.

3. Add butter to the reserved fat in the pan and heat over high temperature, swirling to melt the butter. When the foam subsides, reduce heat to medium-high and add the chicken. Cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, until browned. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover lightly with foil.

4. Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, rosemary and pepper flakes. Cook for half a minute or so. Try not to let the garlic brown. Add broth and simmer until slightly thick, about 4 minutes.

5. Return chicken and bacon to the pan, simmer, turning chicken at least once until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick and glossy about 3 to 5 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, peel and cut up sweet potatoes in large chunks. Place in pot and fill with enough water to cover the potatoes. Add 2 tablespoons maple syrup and stir. Heat to boiling and cook for 20 minutes or until tender.

7. While the potatoes are boiling, melt the butter, brown sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup, cream, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until it thickens a little. Set aside.

8. Once the potatoes are tender, drain all the liquid and return them to the pot. Mash with a potato masher.

9. Slowly pour in the sugar mixture, a little at a time and stir/mash after each addition. You may not need to use all of the sugar mixture, add enough until it gets to a consistency that you like.

10. Serve chicken with sweet potatoes.


Alexander said...

Looks so yummy! I so want to try!

Stephanie said...

This chicken sounds so delicious.I'll have to try it soon.