- SERVINGS: 4
This is a good place to start experimenting with fresh spices: The pungent paste is incredibly easy to make, even though it needs a couple of hours to fully flavor the chicken. It can also be used on salmon and scallops.
- 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, tender white inner bulbs only, smashed and coarsely chopped
- 2 large shallots, coarsely chopped (1/4 pound)
- 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1 Thai chile, chopped
- 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
- 4 boneless chicken breast halves, with skin (about 7 ounces each)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- In a food processor, combine the lemongrass with the shallots, garlic, chile and fish sauce and pulse to a coarse paste. Set the chicken breasts on a plate, skin side down. Spread the paste on the fleshy side of the chicken, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Bring the chicken to room temperature before cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 450°. Transfer the chicken, skin side down, to paper towels. Heat the oil in a large nonstick ovenproof skillet. Add the chicken, skin side down, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until lightly browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the chicken for 7 minutes, or until it is deep golden on the bottom. Carefully turn the chicken, season with salt and pepper and roast for 5 minutes longer, or until cooked through. Set the chicken breasts on a platter or plates and serve.
The hot chile, tangy fish sauce and aromatic lemongrass suggest a Chardonnay with no oak. Try a bright New Zealand example.