Monday night is healthy dinner night. I don’t drink wine, even if Craig makes a stink and opens a bottle in protest. I don’t make dessert, even if he begs for my famous chocolate chip cookies. What I do, on Monday night, is penance for all of the ridiculous things I ate over the weekend and, also, I set the tone for the upcoming week: if I eat healthy on Monday night, it’ll make the fact that I went to the gym earlier in the day seem worthwhile. Also, it’ll keep me in the zone for going to the gym next day. The trick, though, is to make the dinner just healthy enough; meaning, it shouldn’t be punishing. It should still be good. Which is how I came up with the dinner I’m about to tell you about.
The elements of this dish come from two very different sources: the CSA box that arrives on my doorstep every Sunday and the Trader Joe’s underneath my gym. This week’s CSA came with gorgeous multi-colored carrots:
And pixie tangerines which I cut in half and juiced (about 6 of them):
The chicken breasts–bone-in, skin-on (duh!) and brined, because they’re kosher–came from Trader Joe’s.
To make the dinner, I cranked the oven up to 425. I heated a few tablespoons of olive oil in a metal skillet on high heat and while that was heating, I patted the chicken breasts really dry with paper towels and then sprinkled on a little more salt and pepper. When the oil was good and hot, I laid the chicken breasts in skin-side down and listened to the loud sizzle (that’s a very good sign).
While that sizzled away, I washed the carrots, patted them dry, but I didn’t peel them. I scraped them with a knife (a trick I learned writing my book; it helps keep the color); you’re just scraping off any rough ugly patches. Then I sliced the thick ones in half vertically; the small ones I kept whole, trimming the greens at the top. All of these I placed on a cookie sheet and tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Into the oven that went, on one shelf. Meanwhile, when the chicken had browned for some time on the skin-side, I flipped it over with a pair of tongs and also transferred it to the oven, on to another shelf.
Then, basically, you wait about 20 minutes. The carrots you may have to flip half-way through; just check ’em. They’re done when they’re golden brown and a knife goes through easily. Meanwhile, the chicken takes about 10 minutes longer. Check the temperature of the chicken with a meat thermometer; should be around 165 when it’s done.
To finish, lift the chicken to a plate with a spatula (not those raw chicken-coated tongs), pour out a little of the fat, then turn up the heat on the pan and pour in all of that tangerine juice and–here’s the unhealthy part–a pat of butter to make a sauce.
As it begins to boil, stir and scrape up all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Those are what make the sauce delicious. Taste for salt, but it really shouldn’t need any; this is powerful stuff:
Pile up the carrots on to two plates, place the chicken breasts next to them, and pour the tangerine sauce over everything.
Now that’s my kind of healthy Monday night dinner. What’s that you say? It’s not really a healthy Monday night dinner? FINE, THEN LEAVE OUT THE BUTTER. WHY DO YOU HAVE TO SUCK THE JOY OUT OF EVERYTHING!?!