Working the Hesser Canon: Chicken Roasted with Sour Cream, Lemon Juice and Mango Chutney

Cookbooks are strange things. Some sit on your shelf for years ignored (my Nigella Lawsons, my Julia Childs) and some beckon to you like harpies on a heath. (Harpies on a heath?) (It makes sense in my head.)

One factor that determines a cookbook’s harpiness (oi, harpiness) is its tract record. Of the recipes you’ve cooked from this cookbook, how many have proved successful? How many have proven to be failures?

Nancy Silverton, for example. I went through a Nancy Silverton phase last winter. Remember? I made sourdough with a wild yeast starter? Well some of her recipes were winners (the sourdough, for example) but many were doozies. The coffee cake disaster comes to mind. So Nancy remains on the shelf, shunned and forgotten.

Much of my Barefoot Contessa worship has to do with how successful her recipes have proven. I’d say her batting average is… ummm, I don’t understand sports so let’s say her GPA is 3.9. I don’t think I’ve had a Contessa disaster yet.

Amanda Hesser is a newbie in the class and so far she’s fared quite well. Her vanilla bean loaves were triumphs of flour, sugar, eggs and vanilla beans. One was gobbled up immediately, the other sat in my freezer until I defrosted it and gobbled it up just as greedily.

So Amanda Hesser leaped the first hurdle with flair: pastry. For pastry we give Amanda an A+.

Now on to entree. Dinner. Chicken.

We’re talking her Chicken Roasted with Sour Cream, Lemon Juice and Mango Chutney. Actually, in all fairness, it’s not her recipe. It’s her husband’s recipe (Tad Friend’s). He cooked it for her early in their courtship. It’s really easy and really yummy. It makes your kitchen smell like curry though. And also it makes you fart curry farts. Sorry to be crass, but curry farts are a fact of life and if you cook this dish you better be prepared. (How their courtship survived this dish, I’ll never know.)

Here’s what you need:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (I used two)

1/2 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

2 Tbs Major Grey mango chutney

(Actually, Whole Foods didn’t have Major Grey, so I went with Hampton Chutney, which worked fine):


1 tsp curry powder

Juice of 1 Meyer lemon or 1 regular lemon

Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 450. Lay the chicken flat in a roasting dish (either Pyrex or enamel) that’s large enough to fit the pieces in one layer.


Whisk together the mayonaisse and sour cream. Drop in the chutney and curry powder and keep whisking until smooth. Add the lemon juice a little at a time and taste as you go. It should be quite tangy. Stop when it is to your liking.


2. Spoon the sauce over the chicken.


Place in the oven and roast until the chicken is just cooked through, about 15 minutes.


After you take it out of the oven, grind fresh pepper over top. (I forgot to do this.)

Anyway, tasted great. One piece was slightly undercooked. It was hard to tell because of all that sauce:


That’s basically what this is–chicken with tangy curry sauce. I thought I was making more of a marinade until the end product came out. And the tangy curry sauce made the whole experience lush and creamy. (Lush and creamy?) (Quiet, I’m drunk.) Let me quote Amanda: “It wasn’t at all a veloute, which is rich and feels like velvet in your mouth. This had more heft and was tangy, even a little fruity. It was a delicious mystery.”

Amanda’s current GPA: 4.0 (based on two recipes).

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