Baked Lemon Chicken Breasts (Healthy Recipe)

Baked Lemon Chicken Breasts (Healthy Recipe) Recipe

After reading through Joy Bauer's new book, "Food cures: Eat Right to Get Healthier, Look Younger, and Add Years to Your Life", it inspired me to  make a healthy chicken dish. To make the dish I used chicken breasts because the meat is leaner. Chicken breasts can taste a little bland, so I added acidic ingredients which both tenderize the meat and enhance the flavor. I used what is currently in season: pomegranate and lemon. I also mixed in capers and kalamata olives for their briny taste. I love how the flavors complement each other; all have acidic notes which make them work well together while keeping the calorie count low.

As usual, olive oil is a great choice for a healthy meal, though as Joy said a little goes a long way!

Ingredients

Yields: 6 servings

6 chicken breast halves (about 1-½ pounds total), boneless and skinless
½ teaspoon cayenne powder, to taste
1 (1-inch) chunk fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 lemons
2 teaspoons papaya paste (see tips)
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
3 tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons kalamata olives, freshly pitted
6 tablespoons olive oil
1-½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, freshly ground


Directions

The day before...

Freshly grated ginger: Clean the ginger root and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife (or the edge of a spoon). Grate the ginger with a fine mesh Microplane. Gather about 2 teaspoons of grated ginger root.

How to segment a citrus: Using a sharp knife, peel the lemons and trim both ends. With the same knife, remove the membrane wall on one side around a segment. Separate the segment along the next membrane. Free the segment and gently pull it away from the fruit, removing all the membrane. Repeat and remove the rest of the segments. Gather the segments in a bowl. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Gather the remaining lemon with the membranes and squeeze as much as juice as possible from the membranes into another bowl.

Marinating the chicken:

Remove the fat around the bottom of the breasts if there is any. Wash the chicken breasts and pat them dry using paper towels. Make 3-4 deep diagonal incisions into the flesh of each piece using a sharp boning knife.

Rub the chicken with salt, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, baking powder, papaya paste, 1 teaspoon pink peppercorns and garlic. Rub evenly. Place the chicken in a large bowl or a sealable zip-top bag. Drizzle with lemon juice and 4 tablespoons olive oil. Make sure the mixture penetrates and coats the chicken. Add half the pomegranate seeds. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight.


The next day.

Assembly time:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Remove the chicken 15 minutes before cooking to bring it back to room temperature.

Brush a baking pan previously lined with parchment paper with a little oil.  Place the red onions in the baking pan and top with the chicken pieces. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt. Add the marinade, half the lemon segments, 2 tablespoons olives, 2 tablespoons capers and the rest of the pink peppercorns.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Garnish with the remaining pomegranate seeds, olives, lemon segments and capers. Allow the chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes.

The chicken should have a dry outer layer and be very moist on the inside. Dice the chicken into 1-inch pieces. Garnish with the red onions, capers, lemon, olive and pomegranate seeds.

Serve warm with basmati rice on the side.

Bon appétit!


Tips

I use green papaya, baking powder, pomegranate and lemon juice as meat tenderizers to ensure moist and juicy meat. The papaya paste was Baji, my husband Lulu's late grandma's secret for tender and moist meat. Peel a green papaya. Grind the cubed papaya with seeds in a mini food processor; place about 2 teaspoons of papaya paste per slot in an ice-cube tray and freeze them. Transfer the ice-cubes into sealable plastic bags and place back in the freezer.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on October 18, 2011.


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