Blog Archive

Friday, March 11, 2016

Za'atar-Roasted Chicken with Vegetables and a Few Mexican Market Finds

Za'atar-Roasted Chicken with Vegetables and a Few Mexican Market Finds
by Victoria Challancin

It is not so much that I have been remiss as it is that I have been insanely busy with food events and cooking classes.  Finally, I can start to share some of what I have been storing up for you, my patient readers.

Note:  To read more about Za'atar and see my recipe for making this perky spice blend, see my post on Za'atar:  A Taste of the Middle East.

I wanted to offer a new flavor palate to my Mexican cooks in my class this week, so I chose what I hoped would be an interesting blend of fairly strong flavors, most new to the cooks.  This easy recipe is so simple to make and the flavor yield is tremendous.  Broccoli (or green beans), onion,  green olives and orange slices are tossed with a bit of olive oil and white wine, spread on a cooking sheet and topped with za'atar-dusted chicken strips before roasting.  It couldn't be easier, or more delicious. The orange theme continues by using zest and juice, coupled with chicken broth, to prepare whole wheat couscous on which to serve the dish.  I love not only the ease of preparation, but the flavor punch as well.

The tray of vegetables before cooking and below with the raw chicken pieces

The final dish with a bit of couscous peaking through

Cook's Notes:  The original recipe called for green beans, which I change for broccoli.  It also called for one orange and I used two, which gave the couscous a fantastic flavor.  I was thrilled to find whole wheat couscous for the first time here in San Miguel as well.  A treat.  As for the chicken tenders, I simply cut two boneless breasts into strips and cooked the entire tray an extra few minutes.

Za’atar-Roasted Chicken & Vegetables with Orange-Scented Whole Wheat Couscous

(Recipe from EatingWell January/February 2016)

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

1 medium navel orange
1 pound trimmed green beans or broccoli florets
1 medium red onion, halved and sliced
1/2 cup Kalamata or Castelveltrano olives
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, divided
1 pound chicken tenders or chicken breasts cut into strips
1 tablespoon za’atar (from Luna de Queso—ask for it)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup whole-wheat couscous

Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 450 degrees F.  Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Grate 2 teaspoons zest from orange.  Slice 1/2 inch off the ends and squeeze juice into a medium saucepan; add the zest.  Set aside.

Cut the rest of the orange in half, then cut into 1/4-inch slices.  Toss in a large bowl with green beans or broccoli florets, onion, olives, oil, wine, salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared pan.  Toss chicken with za'atar in the bowl, then place on top of the green bean or broccoli mixture.

Roast on the bottom rack until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is no longer pink in the middle, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile add broth and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Sitr in couscous.  Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.  Serve with the chicken and vegetables.

Things I found in the Markets this week:
Works of art, painted by nature...quail eggs for sale at less than 6 cents each

Cacao--I couldn't help but snap a photo as I passed this in a small chocolate store

Tiny globe zucchini, some too small to stuff!

Huitlacoche (also spelled cuitlacoche), the prized corn smut, or corn "truffle" as we like to call it here in Mexico, used to be available only from individual sellers.  Now you can find it in grocery stores and small greengrocer shops as well.  Of course, I still prefer to support the small farmer and housewife hawking her wares.

Fresh turmeric root

We used to find only plum or round tomatoes.  Just look at what our organic markets are offering...all babies...all appealing.

One perfect red jalapeño.  Encorchado, or "corked," as my Mexican friends prefer.  I usually gravitate toward serrano chiles, but I couldn't resist these.  So perfect.

Although Mexico is known for its exotic mushrooms, here in the Bajio, where I live, only common ones are usually available (button, crimini, portobello, and oyster).  Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon these pink oyster mushrooms in a local organic shop!  Gorgeous!

Can you tell I was enchanted?

Still enamored. Just love the look of them!

Parting Shot:  Fried Pork Skins
You don't always see such huge pieces of chicharron, or fried pork skins on offer.  Of course I asked this lovely young man if I could snap a photos.  He not only agreed to it, he insisted I try a bite.  What can I say?  You might imagine that you wouldn't like this, but oh my...perfection.  Not a drop of grease.  Just concentrated flavor...Heaven.

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Resserved.

Flavors of the Sun Cooking School
(and Travel)
San Miguel de Allende, México


Carolina said...

Turmeric root!? You say nothing about it, but I've always wondered what those were. Can I grind them? Or what?

Eha said...

Well this comes from an 'impatient friend' but has the wait ever been worth the while! The chicken looks divine and I have never thought to use broccoli in the dish!! The recipe is already in my kitchen . . . We seem to be richer in our mushroom orbit than you but I have never, ever seen those gorgeous pink oysters: ours are a plebeian off-white - fit to paint or photograph and almost a pity to eat . . . 'Corn Smut' is also new to me: as usual, Signora Challancin you have given us homework . . .

Norma said...

I love everything in that dish. I have used Zartar only a few times but now with all these wonderful,added ingredients will be a must try. Also loving all the picture of you excursion finds. Glad your back.

Victoria Challancin said...

Dear Readers,
I apologize that I can't reply to you individually, but this server/provider doesn't have that feature.

Carolina--Mexicans use turmeric root for color and increasingly for health reasons. It is often shaved or grated into water and sometimes rice dishes as well.

Eha--You have inspired me to write more about huitlacoche, an ingredient ignored by much of the world as a nuisance and invasive problem for corn growers. Here in Mexico, it is considered a delicacy. And rightly so. Perhaps soon I can wax poetical over this favorite ingredient.

Norma--do explore Za'atar. I wrote about it and gave a recipe for it should you not be able to easily find it:

Thanks to each of you! Victoria

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

How amazing are your market finds! I've had Huitlacoche once-in a quesadilla if I remember correctly. It was so delicious! :D And this chicken sounds heavenly.

Nagi@RecipeTinEats said...

You surely find amazing things in your market. Your dish looks delish!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Oh my goodness, what a coincidence…I just bought Za'atar yesterday at a farmer's market along with many of the items you photographed such as ripe heirloom tomatoes and three kinds of mushroom. I can't wait to use some of the Za'atar to make your recipe.

Nagi@RecipeTinEats said...

I have never cooked this before, but I can tell it has lots of wonderful flavours! Super yum!