This post really took me a long time to get out the door. We had a busy week or two here with the holiday and life happened but we are all healthy and happy and our shopping is done and we have full bellies so there is nothing to complain about! This recipe was an experiment one night and I am so glad I took pictures. It may have taken a bit of work and an hour to cook but it seriously paid off. I made a little extra in the hopes of some leftovers for lunch for myself but we ended up negotiating for the last piece of chicken. I am not sure why I have been cooking with bacon so much but I don’t regret it. Look for some shorter posts in the upcoming weeks as I will be out of town and with family but still cooking, I’m sure. By the way, I meant to put some sage in the chicken when I rolled them up but one of my roommates is teething and I was cooking with one eye. Excuses, excuses. Enjoy this amazing treat of a recipe. It was a silent meal… Always a good sound for chefs.
Why do you need to toss the vegetables in oil first?
This isn’t just for flavor. The fat will help conduct the heat better through the food and work to break down proteins. Often chicken stock is used as a lower-calorie alternative. The bacon from the skewers will also release fat and flavor into the vegetables. If you are curious about needed fat to cook, try sautéing garlic in a pan with no oil. Not really working, is it? There is a lot at work here: heat conduction, caramelization, and the Maillard Reaction. We can save those for later.
Why is pounding chicken important?
Pounding chicken is a key technique for producing a tender bite! It is skipped by so many, and I think it is so essential. When a chicken breast (or any other meat, usually) is cooked, the muscle fibers and connective tissues can seize up and tighten. By pounding the chicken, you are breaking these up, helping your meat become fork-tender or even fall-off-the-bone tender. Pounding is mechanical tenderizing. There is also thermal, basically cooking, and enzymatic tenderization, like marinating.
How long should I cook my vegetables?
Don’t hate me, but I’m going to say it: “until they are done.” It’s a classic fight in the kitchen. Never ask your chef how long to cook something, she will probably tell you to cook it until it’s done. This was a horrible learning experience for me, I like schedules and details and if I can’t plan for when something will be done I am not happy. After practice, you will have a good idea of how long your oven, stove, and pans take to cook something. I wrote a schedule for this meal based on how long each veggie and the chicken should take. Potatoes, plan on 50 minutes. Squash and carrots, 35-45 minutes. Green beans or other green veggies, 20-25 minutes. Mushrooms, 10-15 minutes. Chicken, 20-25 minutes. The times I used below are based on the size of the vegetable and size of my pan. A smaller pan means more time because there is less food surface area exposed to heat.
Which vegetables should I use?
Just like with stock I recommend just using the vegetables you love. If you can’t make up your mind just decide based on color. I threw a handful of cranberries in as a last minute decision and it tastes amazing! I thought the dish could use some color and something to compliment the sweet maple flavor… I am converted to roasted cranberries.
What kind of potatoes should I use for roasting?
Use waxy potatoes! There are two general classifications of potatoes: waxy and floury. Waxy potatoes are firmer when cooked and have lower starch content than floury potatoes. They also tend to keep their form when cooked- think potato salad, au gratin, or potatoes in soups. Red-skinned potatoes, white potatoes, new potatoes, and yellow potatoes (all with thin, shiny skin) are examples of waxy potatoes. Floury potatoes are best for baking, frying, and mashing, and have a high starch content. Russets are floury potatoes.
Why don’t you have black pepper in your recipes?
If you work in the kitchen you adopt this awful automatic eye roll when a ticket comes in for an uncommon food allergy. Often people who don’t like an ingredient will tell their server they have an allergy to it so the kitchen doesn’t use it in their dish. So, the point of my story is my black pepper “sensitivity.” I am in the habit of just saying that I really, really, don’t like it and asking that it not be used if someone is cooking for me since it isn’t life-threatening. Sometimes people do anyways and that’s when I learn my lesson about being polite and spend the next few hours or days coughing and with an itchy mouth. At big dinners and holidays, my awesome husband has the oh-so-hard job of taste-testing for me. Feel free to add it to my recipes, I usually forget to even mention it since we don’t keep it in the house.
Which end do I trim off of the green beans?
Trim the woody stem that was attached to the stalk, or any broken pieces. Look at this picture below. The other end will look smooth and pointed. That is the one to keep on!
2-3 chicken breasts
2-3 strips of bacon halved
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 cloves garlic, whole or smashed
1/2 butternut squash, in 1″ cubes
1 lb waxy potatoes, about 1″ pieces
1 cup baby carrots, halved
1 cup green beans, trimmed and halved
1/2 cup cranberries
1 cup mushrooms, cleaned (see why here)
Don’t forget to wash the brush if it touches raw chicken, and be careful not to contaminate your syrup. You don’t want to brush raw chicken germs onto cooked chicken.