Currently cooking from In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite by Melissa Clark
I’ve had a devil of a time trying to pick my next cookbook. You’d think, with more than 200 cookbooks, that that would be easy. Nope. I’ve been trying to cut down on my processed sugar intake, so I wanted to steer clear of baking cookbooks (at least for a little while). And none of my savory cookbooks looked very appealing. Lately, all I’ve wanted to eat are salads full of cabbage, lettuce and other assorted veggies. Also, I wanted to cook out of one of my newer cookbooks. I kept coming back to this book, but I just couldn’t find more than a handful of recipes that sounded good. I decided to go for it anyway. I’ll probably tagteam this book with another of Melissa Clark’s new cookbooks, Cook This Now.
One of the first things that struck me about In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite was how readable it was. Every recipe comes with a story. Not just headnotes, but a story that tells you how the recipe came about. That’s not surprising, considering Clark writes a regular column for the New York Times dining section, in addition to appearing in just about every food magazine ever published. She’s got an easy way of writing that makes you feel like she’s your best friend. She makes writing look effortless.
Anyway, onto the first dish. This book has exactly one recipe for chicken breasts, and Clark even admits that she originally envisioned using a whole chicken, preferring the dark meat to the white meat, but her editor requested chicken breasts. I don’t know how this would work with a whole chicken, but I can tell you that it works just fine with chicken breasts. Better than fine, actually. This was so good that Bryan even admitted to kind of liking the sweet potatoes.
The dish is pretty simple and perfect for a weeknight. You take a couple of sweet potatoes (okay, yams), cut them into chunks and start roasting them in the oven. Meanwhile, you make a paste of honey, chipotle chilies in adobe sauce, cumin, cinnamon, salt, garlic and vinegar. The paste gets rubbed all over chicken breasts, then the meat gets place on top of the sweet potato chunks and roasted until the chicken is done, about 20 more minutes.
My only gripe is that the paste was very spicy. The recipe calls for 4 chipotle chilies, minced. I hate the seeds (they never soften, and I find their hard texture annoying), so I took all the seeds out, and it was still too spicy. I would cut the chilies in half if you don’t like spice. Other than that, I really liked this dish. The sweet potatoes get soft but not mushy and soak up a lot of the chicken juice. The chicken stays moist, and the paste gives it a lot of flavor. I was a little unsure about the combination of cinnamon and cumin, but here it really works. I love the idea of roasting the chicken breasts over veggies, and I’d like to try it with cauliflower.
As for a picture? Well, I came down with a cold the day I made this, and I was too tired and sneezy to get out the camera. Sorry.