13 July 2011

Pesto chicken with roasted tomatoes and Milanese couscous

"Milanese couscous" - cracking name, don't you think?  After a bit of research, it's what I've called the couscous dish that I made to accompany the Pesto chicken.

I made the Pesto chicken once prior to starting the Rhubarb & Ginger blog and it had become lost in the sands of time.  Well, until I noticed I had half a jar of pesto lurking in the fridge, waiting to be used for something.  A quick ponder and my normally unreliable brain threw out the "how about Pesto chicken?" idea.

As the chicken I'd used in the previous incarnation had been hugely inferior to the chicken breasts I can find these days, I could only think that the dish would be better than last time - and let me tell you, last time was pretty darned good!

I had one problem with the making of the dish, which was that as fast as I tried to spoon the filling into the chicken, it was coming straight back out again on the same teaspoon.  *sigh*  Losing sensation in my hands is really becoming a problem!  However, I shall sidetrack that next time, and buy a piping set.  That'll solve that particular problem and if you have one, I'd recommend using it when you make this chicken dish.  You WILL be making it, won't you?

For the breadcrumbs, I had unusually run out of my frozen breadcrumb stash, so just whizzed up a crust and a slice of Oatilicious bread which made the most lovely breadcrumbs.  So if you don't have oaty bread, it might be worth adding a tablespoon of rolled oats to the blender when you're making your next batch of breadcrumbs!

I've given the recipe for the Milanese couscous here as well, as it went so beautifully with the chicken that I thought it would be nice to give details for an entire course, as opposed to simply the meat part, or the vegetable part.

The couscous is based - loosely - on the Ottolenghi Green Couscous, but is dealing completely with Italian flavours such as Grana Padano cheese, basil and pine nuts.  In fact, that's where I got the "Milanese" bit from - as Grana Padano hails from near to Milan.  Don't worry if you don't have Grana Padano, because Parmesan will do just as well.


Ingredients :

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tbsp green pesto
50g mascarpone
2 tbsp olive oil
100g breadcrumbs
9-12 cherry tomatoes on the vine
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper.

Method :

1.  Pre-heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

2.  Cut into the thick end of the chicken breast, moving the knife around to create a pocket within, but with a small opening.

3.  Mix the pesto and mascarpone together, then carefully fill each chicken breast with the mixture (this is where the piping bag would come in handy!).

4.  Drizzle a little olive oil over each chicken breast, then roll them in the breadcrumbs and place onto a baking tray.  Press a little extra breadcrumbs into the top surface of each chicken breast, then season.

5.  Sprinkle the cherry tomatoes around the chicken, then place into the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Serve with :


Ingredients :

1 onion, sliced thinly
a knob of butter
1 tsp olive oil
4-5 chestnut mushrooms, sliced thinly
100g fresh parsley, chopped roughly
100g fresh basil
a handful of pine nuts
30g Grana Padano, grated finely
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
150g couscous
150ml boiling chicken stock
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tbsp lemon juice.

Method :

1.  In a frying pan, melt the butter and add the olive oil, then gently fry the onion until golden and just starting to caramelise.  Add the mushroom slices and cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Add a pinch of sea salt and put aside to keep warm.

2.  In a mini-blender, add the parsley, basil, Grana Padano, pine nuts and olive oil.  Whizz until you have created a herb paste.

3.  Place the couscous into a large bowl and add the stock.  Cover with cling film and set aside for around 10 minutes.  Remove the cling film and fluff up the grains with a fork.

4.  Then add the herb paste and stir through evenly.  Add the onions and mushrooms and stir through.  Season to taste - including with black pepper.  Add the lemon juice and serve.


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