as winter’s on its way out (at last!), i have one final winter recipe to share with you, a favorite of mine. a simple maple-dijon chicken, served atop maple-glazed brussels sprouts and butternut squash. it’s a grounding dish, for a confusing time – where i certainly need all of the grounding i can get.this week i was faced with one of the hardest decisions i’ve ever had to make. one of those defining decisions, in which my entire body feels truly split into pieces.
my dilemma: do i take the “fast track to happiness” (as my sister coined it) – even though that happiness may be fleeting and unfulfilling? or do i seek the slower path, the one without a clear signpost and with only a fuzzy outline of a destination?
in situations like this, i quickly become a hollower and more questioning version of myself. for any other jonathan safran foer fans out there, i call it – zipping up the sleeping bag of myself – where i shut down mentally to an extent and let thoughts wreak havoc on my brain, to no availing outcome or end.
it’s in these moments that i seek distraction in the kitchen, where i seek grounding through the meditative chopping and precision of a well-timed dinner.
and so this juicy chicken and vegetable meal was created. this chicken is tender and juicy and full of flavor…a result of the delicious pan-searing method of cooking it. it’s a super simple technique (which i thank my old roommate for teaching me) that never fails me. it’s really only a matter of heating some herbs in olive oil before searing the chicken, while covering the pot as it’s cooking so that the meat tenderizes.
for the vegetables, a quick roasting with a drizzle of maple syrup and olive oil is all it really takes. it’s a hearty meal, and rich in color and in flavor. it’s a meal that screams new england (to me), and a meal that brings me home when i most need that centering.in the end, i’ve decided to trust my gut. unfamiliar territory for me. i’ve always been the rational one, head-driven, but also the one that’s felt weighed down by some amorphous weight. i’ve decided it’s time to break free of that load, to take a chance on myself and try out this new confidence thing.
i’m following a path, my path. it may be slower, and surely less defined, but i have faith that i am on my track to happiness. i’ll get there, and when i do, it will be worth the wait.
MAPLE-DIJON CHICKEN W. GLAZED BRUSSELS + BUTTERNUT SQUASH serves 4
- 2 8-oz chicken breast
- 10 large brussel sprouts
- 1 medium-sized butternut squash
- 1.5 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp minced garlic
- salt + pepper
- preheat oven to 375.
- begin by marinating the chicken. combine 1 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tbsp dijon and 1 tbsp red wine vinegar in a ziploc with the chicken breasts, and shake/toss to coat. set aside for at least an hour to marinate.
- now prep the squash by peeling and cubing into 1″ chunks. [i recommend saving the squash seeds to roast for a crunchy topping later.]
- spread squash chunks out evenly across a baking sheet, making sure not to overcrowd. coat in 1-2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper, stirring to ensure they are all covered. add to preheated oven.
- while squash is baking, trim the ends off of the brussel sprouts and slice each in half. blanch them in a pot of boiling water for 3-4 minutes.
- remove butternut squash from the oven after 20 minutes, and add brussels to the pan. drizzle 1/2 tbsp maple syrup, and add a touch more olive oil, salt + pepper to coat. spread out again in an even layer, and return to the oven. bake an additional 10 minutes.
- while that’s baking, work on the chicken. sprinkle each breast with salt+ pepper. heat a skillet to medium-high. when pan is hot, add 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan, then add thyme and garlic and simmer 1-2 min, until fragrant and sizzling. add chicken breasts to pan, then cover and cook for ~8 minutes, until the side facing up is mostly white. then flip the breasts (you should see a nice sear on the bottom side), cover again, and cook an additional 7-8 minutes. cut into the breast to ensure there’s no pink, then remove from heat.
- crank heat to a 550 and broil the veggies for the last 3-5 minutes, until you see the outer leaves of the sprouts start to crisp up nicely, and the edges of the squash get a toasted look to them.
- remove from oven and serve with chicken. top with seeds!
- to toast the squash seeds: simply coat in a drizzle of olive oil, add salt and pepper, and roast ~10 minutes on a piece of aluminum foil.