Over a year ago C and I heard that one of our friends, Noushin, won the District of Columbia chicken cooking contest. This meant she had been chosen to represent the District of Columbia in the National Chicken Cooking Contest. As luck would have it, the Championship Cook Off was to be held in Birmingham, AL, just a few hours from our home in Nashville. While I was unable to attend due to a prior commitment, C and some of his college buddies made the trip down to Birmingham to cheer their friend on. He came back with stories about making small talk with the first lady of Alabama, roving mascot chickens, and the fact that the contestants had to wear sashes straight out of Miss America – even the male contestants. And he brought the sad news that even though it smelled delicious, Noushin’s Warm Roasted Potato and Chicken Salad did not bring home the top prize. Over a year has passed and C still raves about how good the dish smelled and (nudge, nudge) how much he would have liked to taste it. One Sunday evening I was staring at chicken breasts and some new potatoes and I mentally cataloged the contents of my refrigerator and realized that for once, I had all the ingredients actually in my kitchen and could make the dish without even planning.
And as I began cooking, I realized I had to hand it to Noushin. She had put together a recipe that was unique, yet easy to make with readily available ingredients – roasted potatoes, poached chicken, frozen peas, some other veggies, and dressing. But the smell truly was incredible – the aroma of roasting potatoes was mixing with the lemony chicken broth and the kitchen smelled wonderful.
My luck was holding since for once everything ended up finishing around the same time – the peas were cooked, the chicken poached and chopped, and the potatoes were out of the oven. Once I combined the lemony/mustard dressing with the warm chicken, potatoes and veggies, the meal was ready to be served. The meal itself was delicious – substantial and comforting but also light. The lemon/mustard dressing provided a great contrast to the roasted potatoes and complimented the chicken. It went great with a crisp glass of white wine. Basically, it was just plain yummy. Noushin may have been robbed by not winning the Chicken Cook-off, but at least I can make her recipe whenever I need an easy, comforting meal.
Warm Roasted Potato and Chicken Salad
Recipe by Noushin Jahanian
Washington, DC Representative to the 47th National Chicken Cooking Contest
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 pound baby Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup frozen green peas
5 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley, divided
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
Dressing: recipe follows
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
In large bowl, toss together potatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper. Place potatoes, skin side down, in single layer on baking sheet. Place in 400 F. oven and bake 30 minutes, or until potatoes are fully cooked. Place potatoes under broiler for additional 2 minutes to brown. In medium saucepan, place chicken. Cover with water, add lemon and cook over medium high heat about 12 minutes, or until done. Remove chicken from water, cool slightly and chop into bite-size pieces. Cook peas according to package directions and rinse with cold water to cool. In large bowl, toss together chopped chicken, roasted potatoes, peas, 4 tablespoons of the parsley, green onions and Dressing. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Dressing: In small bowl, whisk together 2/3 cup mayonnaise; 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard; juice of 1/2 lemon;
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest; 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar; 1/2 tablespoon olive oil; 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper; 1/4 teaspoon salt; and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.