Oregano Chicken Recipe
Sometimes you want to cook something to impress someone, and reheating pizza or microwaving a ready-meal just isn't going to cut it. You need something that involves you using pans, raw ingredients, and seasoning, that smells good, but which is easy and quite quick to prepare. This recipe scales easily (so you can practice by just making it for yourself) and the oregano gives off a great aroma as you're cooking. Oregano has a wonderful rich flavour and is just the ticket to give some plain old chicken a bit of zing:
- 1 chicken breast per person.
- Vegetable oil (preferably olive oil, but any will work).
- 2 teaspoons of chopped oregano per person (fresh is best, but you can also buy little jars of dried spices in most supermarkets).
- Approximately 30-40g of mixed veg of your choice per person. I used carrots, broccoli and cauliflower (you could also use pre-prepared frozen mixed veg, available from most supermarkets).
First, prepare your vegetables. Peel the carrots and chop them, and wash the broccoli and cauliflower and cut them into more managable pieces. If you're using frozen veg then you can skip this step.
Now prepare your chicken breast. A whole breast is quite thick and will cook more slowly, so take a knife and cut the breast in half lengthways horizontally.
Press the chicken breasts flat with the heel of your hand or place them under cling-film and flatten them with a rolling pin. Rub oregano into both sides of the chicken breast halves.
After a little practice you will be able to prepare your chicken breast while your skillet is heating up. If you can't multitask that well yet then now is the time to start heating a heavy-bottomed cast-iron skillet on a high heat, with enough vegetable oil to cover about a third of the bottom of the pan. Next you need to start cooking your vegetables as they may take a little longer than the chicken. You can boil them in a pan of water on the stove for approximately 6 minutes (fresh) or 8 minutes (frozen) - occasionally bite a bit of the carrot to see if they're done. It should be pleasantly firm but not hard. Remember, you're cooking for people with a pallette, not for a school kitchen, so no mushy over-boiled veggies either.
A way to cook the vegetables that causes less vitamins to be destroyed (or so I'm told), and also allows you to keep them to one side if they take less time than you thought, is to steam them in the microwave. Put them in a microwaveable dish with a little water in the bottom and put a lid on. Microwave them for 2 minutes at a time on 750W, stirring them after every 2 minutes to help them cook evenly. This will probably take about as long as if you boiled them.
Your skillet should be nice and hot now. If the oil is smoking a little bit then it's just hot enough. The next part will produce steam and some smoke so make sure any doors that lead to smoke detectors are closed and your extractor fan is on. Hot oil is dangerous and you should be extremely careful with the next bit as it may spit. Carefully lay your chicken breasts on the hot skillet and cook for approximately 3-4 minutes on each side, or until "grill lines" have been scorched into the flesh, then turn them over and do the same for the other side. If you don't have a skillet an ordinary frying pan will work but the chicken may be a bit greasier and you won't get the grill lines.
If you've timed it right your vegetables should be just about ready now. Strain off any excess water and place on the plate, then add the two halves of the chicken breast. Serve with a luscious white wine such as a New World Chardonnay or a Californian Sauvignon Blanc, or (if you've gone heavy with the oregano or used vegetables with a richer flavour) try a light red such as a Pinot Noir and show your dining companions that white meat doesn't always mean white wine. Bon appétit!