Oven roasted chicken breasts, butternut squash puree and roasted broccoli
And so we return to that simple formula: Protein + Puree + Vegetable = Dinner. It really never fails. I've already extolled the virtues of roasted broccoli here, but the other two pieces follow below.
Oven roasted boneless chicken breasts
There are a lot of boneless chicken breasts in the world, but few taste all that good. Tonight's dinner was one of those where you take the first bite and have this sinking feeling:
Why do I eat so many underwhelming pieces of chicken when it could taste like this?
I wish I had a better answer. But until I do, I'll still try to spread the gospel of the roasted boneless chicken breast.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp olive oil
A handful of flour
2 cloves garlic, skin still on
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Add the flour to a shallow bowl with some salt and pepper. Apply a bit more salt and pepper to the chicken breasts and then dredge them through the flour. You want only the thinnest coating of flour.
Melt the butter and oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. (Why use both instead of just one or the other? The butter provides its unmistakable richness, but the olive oil will raise the smoking point and prevent the butter from burning on the stove or in the oven. Your smoke detector will thank you.) Add the garlic cloves and then the chicken breasts. Don't fiddle with them! Let the chicken breasts develop a nice brown crust, flip the over and brown on the other side, and move them to the oven. It shouldn't take more than 10-15 minutes in the oven for the chicken to be fully cooked and still moist.
(Feel free to riff on this basic recipe. Add cayenne to the flour, or thyme to the butter, or lemon juice to the skillet at it heads into the oven. It's hard to screw this up.)
Butternut squash puree
Another simple but great base.
1 medium butternut squash, halved and with seeds removed
4 cloves garlic, whole
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rub just a small amount of olive oil on the inside and outside of the squash; you're just aiming for a light sheen to protect it. Apply salt and pepper to the inside flesh of the squash and lay flat on a baking sheet with the cloves of garlic hidden under the hollowed out bulb of each half.
Roast the squash for 45 minutes to an hour, until you can cleanly insert and remove a fork without experiencing any resistance. Scoop the flesh out of the skin and into a blender or food processor along with the roasted garlic and the butter. Puree until smooth and season with salt and pepper.