Let Us Cook: Butternut

We are absolutely loving NZ Masterchef winner Nadia Lim's cookbook Easy Week Night Meals and decided to pick an ingredient/recipe from the book to cook for some friends during the weekend as part of our challenge. 

We settled on her Thyme-stuffed Chicken, Butternut and Spinach with Mushroom Sauce, and it was every bit as delicious and wonderful as all the other dishes we've made from her book so far. 

It took a little longer to prepare than our usual 'let's just throw it all together' meals, but it was well worth it. The chicken was surprisingly tender and juicy, the butternut was soft, savory and tasty (first time I've tasted Butternut actually), and the mushroom sauce was absolutely amazing. We didn't end up with quite enough sauce for our meat, so next time we might make a little more, but this is definitely one we'll be going back to again and again. See recipe below. =)


Thyme-stuffed Chicken, Butternut and Spinach with Mushroom Sauce

Ingredients
Chicken:
4 chicken breasts (skin on)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
30g softened butter

Butternut and Spinach:
800-900g butternut (skin on), cut in half lengthways and cut into 1 cm-thick slices
1½ tablespoons maple syrup or runny honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
4-5 cups baby spinach leaves or chopped spinach

Mushroom Sauce:
¼ cup white wine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
250g button mushrooms, quartered
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ cup cream
Juice of ½ lemon

Method

1) Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line an oven tray with baking paper. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
2) Mix the garlic, thyme and butter together. Divide the flavoured butter into four and push under the skin of each chicken breast, distributing the butter evenly by squishing it around with your fingers. Season the chicken with salt.
3) Heat a drizzle of oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook for 3 minutes or until the skin is golden brown. Flip the breasts over and transfer to a roasting dish (but don't wash the pan).
4) Lay the butternut on the prepared oven tray and drizzle over the maple syrup or honey and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
5) Roast the chicken and butternut in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (when the juices run clear when pierced with a knife) and the butternut is soft and slightly caramelised.
6) Remove the chicken from the oven and leave to rest in a roasting dish while you make the sauce.
7) Put the frying pan you cooked the chicken in back on medium heat. Add the wine and use a wooden spoon to rub the bottom of the pan to release the brownings into the liquid while the wine bubbles away. Add the olive oil and cook the onion until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the soy sauce, cream and lemon juice and simmer for 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened.
8) Wash the spinach, scatter on top of the butternut and return to the oven for 2-3 minutes until the spinach has wilted.
9) To serve, divide the butternut and spinach between plates, top with a chicken breast and spoon over the sauce.

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