I have to admit, I surprised myself when I first tried this recipe from the Able & Cole cookbook. It’s not what I’d normally go for, and I’d never try it if it was on a restaurant menu. But we had every ingredient (and not much else), and it was actually really good.
Thinking back though, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that I’ve been scared off from anything orange flavored.
About 6 years ago, I went to Rome for the first time. There was some really amazing food, but there was also some really dreadful food. One of those meals included the absolute worst dish I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant, and maybe even ever. Tortellini and salmon in a peppercorn sauce.
Doesn’t sound too bad, I know. Bear with me.
So we chat, we drink wine, we watch fellow tourists roam the cobblestone alleys around the Spanish Steps. (Note: don’t eat so close to the big tourist spots.) Dinner comes out.
What’s that? Is that my dish with the 3 shredded pieces of smoked salmon? And a gloopy orange sauce? Well, I’ll give it a try. What have I got to lose?
Except maybe a tooth because… yep… those are whole peppercorns trapped in thick, gooey bright orange sauce, like future fossilized amber.
And what does the goo taste like? Imagine the cheapest, fakest orange flavored marmalade in the world. And then put the saltiest cheap cuts of smoked salmon in it.
You can understand why it’s taken me a while to embrace oranges again.
Thankfully, for whatever reason, my mental aversions to orange flavor is fading slightly. After all that, I hope I haven’t put you off trying this easy weeknight meal, because it really is good. I promise.
Some recipe notes: You can cut down on the amount of chicken you use if you’re going to bulk it up with sides, like rice and vegetables. I tend to include steamed broccoli, or green beans, and maybe rice if it’s a small portion of chicken.
Adapted from the Abel & Cole Veg Box Companion
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
On the Counter
4 (free range) chicken breast pieces, about 900g or 2 lbs, total
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
2 oranges, cut into 4 segments each
1 red chilli pepper
pinch of milled rock salt or kosher salt
few grinds of fresh black pepper
handful of fresh parsley
What to Do
Preheat the oven to 200 C/390 F.
Season (aka rub up on) the chicken with oil, then salt and pepper. Put the chicken pieces in a roasting tray, not touching. Lay the orange segments around it.
Bake the chicken for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the chile and mince or crush the garlic. Chop the parsley, too, but set it aside for the end.
When the 15 minutes are up, drizzle honey over the chicken, then sprinkle the garlic and chilli pepper over it.
Put it back into the oven and cook it for another 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 80 C/180 F.
Squeeze one or two of the orange segments onto the chicken. Remove it, stir up the juices in the roasting tray, and top the chicken with sauce and parsley.
PS: What was your worst restaurant meal ever?