That basil plant I bought a couple weeks ago… hasn’t died yet! Yay! In fact it’s been growing really fast, and I needed to trim it back, so I decided to make something that would use up some basil. I went with Chicken with Tomato-Herb Sauce over Basil Puree since I had some chicken breast in the freezer. This is NOT a 30-minute meal by any means, in fact it took me a solid hour from start to finish. But, Jon was playing golf and I had time to kill, so it worked out perfectly. I will warn you though, there are a lot of dishes to be washed at the end.
I kind of worked backwards in comparison to the original recipe, but I felt it made more sense time wise for cooking, so I will break it down how I made it.
First, I focused on the potato puree. The potatoes would take the longer than the chicken, so the first thing I did was peel the potatoes. I used white potatoes because they were cheaper. While I was peeling, I got my pot of water boiling, and I prepped my ice bath for the basil. Once the water was boiling I dropped in my basil for 15 sec, then transferred it to the ice bath. *Note: try to use large leaves only… retrieving tiny basil leaves in a pot of boiling water is ridiculous.
Then I dropped in my potatoes, and while they were boiling I measured out all of the other ingredients for the potato puree. *Note: I changed the salt to 1 tsp. – I’ve made this before with 2 tsp like the original recipe says and it was waaaay too salty for me. I also got a start on my compound butter for the chicken during this time. With about 5 min left on the potatoes I started simmering the half and half with the Parmesan. Once the potatoes were done, I drained them and put them back on the burner to dry up any additional moisture. While that was working I got my chicken started in the pan. In between flipping the chicken, I finished up the potato puree. Yes, you have to be a decent multi-tasker or have two people making this. Then I continued on the chicken and tomato sauce until it was finished.
Chicken with Tomato-Herb Sauce over Basil Puree
Adapted from Mrs. Regueiro’s Plate
Potato Basil Puree
2 cups fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
2 pounds large Yukon Gold or white boiling potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
1 cup half-and-half
¾ cup parmesan, finely grated, plus extra for serving
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and prepare a bowl of ice water. Add the basil leaves to the boiling water and cook for 15 seconds. Remove the basil with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge the leaves into the ice water. Drain and set aside.
Add the potatoes to the same pot of boiling water and bring to boil again. Cook the potatoes until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. With about 5 minutes remaining, heat the half-and-half and parmigianno cheese in a small saucepan over medium heat, until the cream simmers. Then remove from heat. Drain and return to the saucepan and cook over a low heat until any remaining water evaporates. (This is where I started the chicken in the pan.)
Add basil to the hot cream mixture, and use a submersion blender to process until smooth. (Or pour into a food processor.) Using a handheld mixer, cream the hot potatoes until they are broken up. Slowly add the hot basil cream, the salt, and pepper and beat until smooth. If the potatoes need to be reheated, keep covered and keep on low heat.
Pour potatoes in a serving bowl, sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese, season to taste, and serve hot.
Chicken Breasts with Tomato-Herb Pan Sauce
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ teaspoon fresh oregano (or 1/2 tsp dried)
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
balsamic vinegar, for deglazing
2 cups cherry tomatoes (I used a brand called “Heavenly” tomatoes – they’re weird shaped, but delicious)
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped finely
In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic, oregano and paprika together until combined. Season compound butter with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet with the 1 tablespoon of the compound butter over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to skillet, cover and cook until no longer pink in center, about 5 minutes per side. When chicken is fully cooked, transfer to a plate. Cover with a tented piece of aluminum foil to keep it warm.
Deglaze pan with balsamic vinegar. Increase the heat to med-high on the skillet and add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally until they slightly burst and char, about 5 minutes. Using the back of the wooden spoon, softly crush the tomatoes to release juices. Add the rest of the compound butter to the skillet and taste for seasonings. Season with salt and pepper. Remove sauce from pan so it doesn’t dry up.
Once chicken has cooled, cut it into slices. Serve chicken over potato basil puree, and top with a heavy spoonful of the tomato sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley.