I made this lovely chicken main course last night. It was full of robust flavors and was damn satisfying. The sweet potatoes and corn were steamed. The chard chips were a nice addition. I also added a pureed cauliflower sauce and an emerald basil oil for flavor, color, and contrast.
The chicken was an organic, skin-on, boneless chicken breast that I sprinkled with a mixture of sea salt, cracked black pepper, minced rosemary, a little thyme, garlic, some dried lemon zest, and a bit of paprika. I seasoned it generously and rubbed it all over with olive oil. I put it skin-side down into a very hot grill-pan over high heat. When the skin was nicely browned and a bit crispy on the edges I flipped the chicken breast and popped the whole pan into a preheated 350ºF oven for about six minutes. I removed the pan and took the chicken out, letting it rest on my cutting board for a few minutes prior to service.
The sweet potatoes I peeled and cut into large cubes. I steamed these with a handful of fresh corn niblets, maybe 20 minutes. I seasoned the sweet potatoes and corn with some salt and pepper and a little chiffonade of basil. I tossed it with a little olive oil and squeezed a tiny bit of orange juice over it.
The swiss chard chips were pretty easy. I tore the leaves off of the main ribs and rubbed the leaves well with some olive oil. I seasoned the chard with a little salt and roasted it in the oven set to convection for about 20 minutes on a sheet-pan lined with a rack at 275 degrees F. When they were nice and crisp I took them out of the oven and left them at room temp.
I simmered a half-head of cauliflower with about a cup of chicken stock, one large garlic clove, a splash of white wine, a little bit of chopped onion, some salt, and a pinch of ground white pepper. I cooked the cauliflower until soft (about 20 minutes) and then pureed it until very smooth in a blender. Note: take care when blending hot liquids. Remove the top portion of the lid, put the lid back on, and cover the lid loosely with a kitchen towel as you blend. This creates a vent so that the hot steam can escape and not cause a pressure explosion of scalding hot cauliflower puree. That’s bad. Also, start at a low speed and increase to fully puree, just to be extra cautious.
Finally I made the basil oil by blanching in boiling salted water a whole bunch of basil. I blanched it for about one minute, drained the basil, and patted it very dry with paper towels. In the blender I pureed the cooked basil with about a half cup of very good olive oil. I poured that into a dish and let it sit on the counter for two hours. I strained the oil of all the solids through a sieve lined with cheesecloth, which took about 20 minutes. What was left was a beautiful, emerald-green garnishing oil redolent of fresh basil.
So, to complete the dish I put a little pile of sweet potatoes and corn in the center of the plate and surrounded it with a moat of hot cauliflower puree. I put the cooked chicken on top, drizzled a little basil oil around the moat, and topped the whole thing off with a few crispy chard chips. It was dynamite! And beautiful.
Keep in mind that these instructions are out of order; so if you intend on trying the dish, read well and plan accordingly. Make the cauliflower sauce in advance, make the basil oil a couple days in advance if you want. Make the chard chips early in the day and set up your steamer an hour before dinner.