I defied myself and cooked a chicken breast. I marinated it overnight to let the flavours in and to moisten it. Then I smeared it with the basting paste. Then I seared it in an iron hot pan to keep the juices in. Then I roasted it in the oven just to let it cook through without it turning dry. Then I broiled it to get it charred in places. Success.
It came out as moist, as tender and as delicious as a baby's bottom. I was as pleased as punch. Like a new mommy of her newborn babe.
Chicken breasts aren't bad after all. It's all in the handling. Like children. Some love, some trust and lots of patience and you will be rewarded with more than you bargained for. If only I had known I would have had more chicken breasts. It takes resolve and desire. And a blog.
As they say ...... better late than never. And stubbornness is stupid.
The recipe ~
I had searched through many ayam percik (a very popular Malaysian chicken roast) recipes and found many ways in which to prepare the chicken for the grill. But the ingredients were more or less similar. (I added fish sauce though). So I went ahead and created a slightly different method of preparation. While doing so I thought I heard...the chicken crying out for herbs. Ho yes.
So I relented and chopped a tumeric leaf very finely (it being rather fibrous) and added it into the marinade and basting paste. That did it. The chicken had a fragrance and a flavour which it wouldn't have had otherwise.
The good news is I believe any other herb would do the job just as well. Thyme, coriander, lime leaves to name just a few. Different herbs different delights.
I have to tell you that this recipe makes more than enough basting paste. You could keep the extra to baste another day.
2 chicken breasts, skin left on
Basting paste and marinade :
3 medium onions
1 inch ginger, peeled and sliced
1 lemon grass, sliced thinly
2 red chillies, chunked
1-2 T chopped tumeric leaf
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt or to taste
1 -2 T fish sauce
1 T tamarind pulp mixed with 1/4 cup water and juice and strained
1 cup thick coconut milk or cream
Grind onions, ginger, garlic, chillies and lemon grass in a small food processor until fine. Or pound in a pestle annd mortar.
Add the chopped tumeric leaf or any herb that you are using to the processed paste.
Use about 2-3 tablespoons of this raw paste to marinate the chicken, add a couple of splashes of fish sauce and maybe a tablespoon of oil to keep the chicken moist. Rub the marinade over the chicken evenly. There is no need for salt as the fish sauce is salty. Place the marinated chicken breasts in a plastic bag and marinate overnight or for a couple of hours.
Meanwhile heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a small pot and saute the raw paste for about a minute, stirring so that it won't stick too much. Add coconut cream and tamarind juice. Add 1-2 tablespoons of the fish sauce and sugar. Stir and bring it to a simmer and simmer until the sauce reduces to a thickish paste. Add salt to taste. Once done keep aside.
Preheat oven to 190 C. Prepare chicken breast smearing the cooked paste over the top of the breasts evenly (not too thickly).
Heat a thick bottomed pan and then pour in about 2 tablespoons of oil into it. When hot sear the chicken skin side down first. When golden turn over to sear the other side. This takes probably about a minute on each side.
Then place the seared chicken breasts on the rack of a roasting pan. Baste the chicken with more cooked paste on top, this time a little generously and roast in the oven for about 15-17 minutes. For the last 2 or 3 minutes turn on the broiler and broil until the top of the chicken gets slightly charred on the top.
The chicken should be done when you press it and it doesn't give way. It's important not to over bake the chicken otherwise you will get dry chicken breasts which I so do not like. And you will not too.
Pour the juices collected at the bottom of the pan over the chicken. Then slice and serve with white rice like I always do.
I have submited this to MMM ~ Malaysian Muhibbah Monday on Test With Skewer by Shaz