This is a dish with a touch of Italian inspired flavours, and is perfect for a weekend meal. The key is in the sauce, and the execution of the chicken.
Here are the basic ingredients for this dish, though I always say do not follow recipes religiously. You should know how to adjust the portions accordingly yourself too.
1 chicken leg (you can get one from any NTUC supermarket)
1 packet of fresh basil or sweet basil (easier to find in NTUC Finest)
1 packet of cherry tomatoes (any type will do)
3 cloves of garlic
1 purple sweet potato
Extra virgin olive oil
First, begin by making the potato mash. Steam the sweet potato for about 30 minutes or until it is soft and can be made into a mash. Test by using the back of the fork to see if you can press and mash it.
Once the potato is softened, put it into a bowl and start mashing it with a fork. Add 2 tablespoons of salted butter and a tablespoon of cream into it and mix thoroughly.
Season it with more salt and pepper to the the desired taste. Leave aside but keep warm.
Season the chicken leg and with salt and pepper at least 15 minutes prior to cooking. This is to ensure that the salt has enough time to extract some moisture out and thus, provide more flavour.
In a frying pan, heat up some olive oil (non-virgin) until it is smoky hot. Then sear the chicken leg on both sides for about 2 minutes each or until they are crisp brown. You need to ensure that the pan and oil is not too cold to get a good sear.
Not enough heat will result in a lesser colouring of the skin and hence less flavour. Too hot, and it will burn too fast. That is why normal olive oil is used for this part as extra virgin oil will smoke too quickly and be very unhealthy.
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees. Once the chicken is nicely seared, add 2 tablespoons of butter into the pan and put the pan with the chicken into the oven to bake for 20 minutes.
To make the sauce, chop the cloves of garlic into slices. Next, half about 8 cherry tomatoes.
In a saucepan, add in about 3 spoons of extra virgin olive oil. Heat up the pan slowly and add in the chopped garlic.
The trick here is not to cook the garlic at too high a heat as it will burn the garlic into a bitter taste. As you slowly heat up the garlic with a pool of oil, it will create a very aromatic garlic oil that will form the base. This is the basis of cooking aromatics and can be used for other purposes as well.
After about a minute, add in the tomatoes. Break some fresh basil leaves over it. The reason you use your hand to break and doing it over the pan is to ensure the maximum herb perfume you will get from this method. Chopping it too early will lessen the basil flavours as it sits on the kitchen counter.
As the mixture starts to cook and infuse, you will get a lovely fragrant aroma. Season it with some salt and pepper and to your desired taste.
Once the pan gets too dry, add in a ladle of water to make the sauce. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes and it will reduce to about two thirds. To finish, we monte the sauce with a tablespoon of butter.
The sauce should still be runny but not too watery and have a nice syrupy texture to it. It should also be able to coat the back of a spoon evenly. And it should also taste delicious.
Now it is time to plate. Spoon the purple mash in the centre of a clean, white plate. Lay the baked chicken leg on top. Be sure to drain the chicken of excess oil before doing so.
Garnish the plate with the cherry tomatoes and garlic and add fresh basil leaves around it give it some colour. Use a spoon to drizzle the sauce over the chicken and around the plate to create a visually appealing pattern.
And there you have it. A flavourful and healthy dish. Easy to make, pretty to look at and definitely, good to eat.
Have fun cooking!