Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rosemary-Orange Chicken over Spinach

This dish is from one of my favorite cookbooks, which I will blog about another time. It's called Preventions Ultimate Quick and Healthy Cookbook and I bought it at a used bookstore for $5 and I love it. However, this recipe made me very frustrated because the usual straightforward directions were mired in incomprehensibility:

"Using a sharp paring knife, peel the orange, removing all of the white pith. Working over a bowl, cut between the membranes to divide the orange into sections. Squeeze the membranes between your fingers to release the just then discard them. Pour all the juice from the bowl into a measuring cup, then add additional orange juice to measure 1/3 of a cup."

I stared at this paragraph for like 10 minutes trying to figure out what they wanted me to do. I understood vaguely, since one of the benefits of this cookbook is the full-color photograph of the dish on the facing page. I gathered that I was to remove the "membrane" from the sections and preserve the intact fleshy sections of the orange to top off the chicken, but when I read the directions, that didn't come across at all. I think they left out a sentence or something. So I was kinda on my own for the orange part.

Not to mention how difficult it was to preserve that intact fleshy part of the orange sans membrane. It was impossible. Maybe it's because I was using a honeybell orange, rather than the navel orange it called for. I don't know. I just know I got a lot of juice all over my hands and not along of orange.

So lets just pretend none of that ever happened. I'm going to reconstruct this recipe the way I think it should have been written. Needless to say, the dish was pretty good.

Rosemary-Orange Chicken over Spinach
paraphrased from Preventions Ultimate Quick and Healthy
Serves 2

1 large orange
1-2 TBS orange juice
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp brown sugar
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 thin boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb spinach, washed with stems removed.

1) Zest 1/2 tsp orange zest from the orange and set aside.
2) Slice orange in half lengthwise. Take one half of the orange and peel it carefully with a paring knife, removing all white pith. Separate the orange into sections and carefully slit the membrane along the back and inside of each section. Slip the paring knife under the membrane and slide it along the inside to separate it from the flesh, then peel off the membrane. Set sections aside.***
Take one half of the orange and cut it crosswise into four to six slices so that each slice has sections. Then cut flesh away from the rind. Set these sections aside for garnish.
(I hope at least one of those made sense. Let me know if it doesn't work)

3) Juice the other half of the orange and pour the juice into a measuring cup. Add additional orange juice as needed to reach 1/3 of a cup
4) Add zest, 1 teaspoon of oil, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon of rosemary, brown sugar, and red pepper to the orange juice. Whisk together and set aside.
5) Sprinkle the chicken with the remaining rosemary, and salt and pepper. Warm remaining teaspoon of oil in a large, non-stick skillet until hot. Add chicken and sauté 2-3 minutes per side, or until a nice golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil.
6) Add spinach to the pan and stir-fry over med-high heat for 1 -2 minutes or until just wilted (add a little oil if the spinach starts to burn).
7) Portion spinach out on each plate. Place a chicken breast on top of the spinach, then place orange sections on top of chicken. Whisk dressing briefly to reincorporate, then pour over chicken and spinach.

***UPDATE: Obviously this is a learning process. Thanks, anonymous commenter, for this handy link! With the photos it makes so much more sense. I would follow these step-by-step instructions rather than my mangled version above.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The how-to-cut-an-orange lesson was brief because it's how most cookbooks ask you to cut an orange. Here's a set of photographic instructions for the same process:

Your recipe then suggests squeezing the remaining membrany thing to get all the juice out.