This was really tasty! I was unsure when I first viewed the recipe, but I am really glad I tried it.
I bought a Sicilian eggplant from Farmer Dave at the Wakefield Farmer’s Market and didn’t feel like doing the usual garlic, olive oil, and/or tomato-based thing, or even cheese, but did want a “one pot meal” with some kind of animal protein. I found this nifty Chicken Breast With Eggplant, Shallots and Ginger recipe by Matt Bittman via Bitten, Recipe of the Day, in the New York Times. Click the title to see the original post.
Here is the original recipe with my adaptations added in brackets.
- 8 ounces shallots (about 6 large) [I started with 8 oz but one was partially rotted, so 6 ounces is more like it.]
- 1/4 cup neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed [I used grapeseed]
- 1 to 1 1/4 pounds eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger or 2 teaspoons dried ginger [I used fresh ginger]
- 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts (4 half breasts) [I used Bell & Evans]
- 1/4 cup or more minced fresh cilantro [I used mostly flat parsley and some chocolate mint because I could not get any cilantro that day from Farmland and I found a suggestion online calling for a bit of mint added to parsley as a substitute for cilantro.]
It is hard to see here, but the mint leaves in with the parsley have a purplish hue that went nicely with the eggplant in this picture.
- 1. Peel shallots. If they are small, leave them whole. Otherwise, cut them in half the long way. (Most large shallots have two lobes and will naturally divide in half as you peel them.) Heat the broiler or a gas or charcoal grill. [I used the gas broiler in my oven]
Half of one my big shallots had rot. Plus, you lose a lot when peeling. Here is what was left to use, which was quite enough to do the trick. Don’t they look lovely? I just love shallots.
- 2. Place oil in a large nonstick skillet, and turn heat to medium high. Add shallots, and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown. Add eggplant, salt and pepper, and lower heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant softens, about 15 minutes.
- 3. When eggplant begins to brown, add half the ginger, and cook 3 minutes or so more, until eggplant is very tender and the mixture fragrant.
- [In lieu of steps 2 and 3, I did not use a nonstick pan. I used my 12″ stainless steel All Clad pan. I covered the pan after 5 minutes, and added 1/2 cup water after 12 minutes, and then cooked for 10 minutes more with the water, adding the ginger for the last 5 or so minutes. I did this because I didn’t peel the eggplant and I didn’t think the called-for cooking time and method would soften the skin enough.]
Here is a trick for mincing ginger: slice it one way, then turn 90 degrees and slice again. to get the results in this picture. Next, slice crosswise in tiny increments. Finish up mincing to desired size.
- 4. Meanwhile, rub chicken breasts with salt, pepper and remaining ginger. Grill about 4 inches from the heat source for 3 minutes a side or until done. [All our broilers vary – preheated the broiler as called for and cooked the chicken breast halves about 4 inches from the heat source, but it was more like 4 minutes, each side, then another 4 minutes each side, with a quick finish of a minute or so on each side. I think I have a really lame broiler…Just cook until nicely browned, turning every few minutes, and check with an instant-read thermometer to confirm that it is done enough if you are not sure. 160 degrees or so.]
- 5. Stir half the cilantro into eggplant mixture. Serve chicken breasts on a bed of eggplant. Garnish with remaining cilantro. [As noted in the ingredient list, I used 9/10th flat parsley and 1/10th chocolate mint that I have growing on my deck.]
Okay, I’ll admit it. I was so excited to serve and eat the meal that I forgot to take a photo of it plated the night I first made it. But, I had leftovers and took the above picture before creating the meal for the next evening. But, it looks about the same. <grin>
I am really glad I took a chance on this recipe. While I like just about anything, even I was not sure about the flavor mix, whether or not I would use cilantro or when I had to find a substitute and decided upon the parsley/mint mix. And, I had no idea what Steve would think. Steve actually had a little trouble with the mint the first night, although he admits it was because it was such an unfamiliar flavor to him in a main course. But he really enjoyed it the second evening. I, on the other hand, was not at all sure about the cilantro and obviously have yet to find out how that works in this recipe. However, I was very comfortable with the mint, being used to Middle Eastern food and having used chocolate mint in my hummus in the past. [Note to self: now that I have a chocolate mint plant, it is time to revive that hummus recipe – and the tabbouleh!]