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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chicken and Sweet Potato Tin Foil Dinner

As a teen aged girl I attended church-sponsored camps most summers (I attended a couple as an adult leader, too). One of my favorite things about camp was eating at least one tin foil dinner consisting of a hamburger patty, and sliced potatoes, carrots and onions. Pretty simple fare, really, but my parents never cooked them in the hundreds of camp fires my growing-up family built. In later years when we lived in a location that allowed back yard fires, my own family enjoyed them as our traditional New Year's Eve dinner. These we made a bit more complex adding herbs such as thyme and/or rosemary as well as a splash of beer. I recently tried a foil-baked dinner, cooked in the oven, which uses sweet potatoes and chicken as well as other flavorful additions.


Chicken and Sweet Potato Tin Foil Dinner

Adapted from The Make-Ahead Cook and Cook's Country Magazine
Serves 4

To make sure the chicken cooks evenly, buy breasts of the same size. My butcher offers only enormous pieces of meat, so I chose to use two chicken tenders per foil pack.

5 T olive oil
6 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 T grated fresh ginger
1/4 teas red pepper flakes
3/4-1 pound sweet potato, approximately, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
4-8 radishes, trimmed and quartered
2 celery ribs, quartered lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 large red onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick, layers separated
3/4 teas table salt
pepper to taste
4 6-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed (or use equivalent amount tenders)
2 T rice vinegar
2 T minced fresh cilantro, optional

Place oil, garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes in a small bowl and microwave until garlic beings to brown. In a large bowl combine sweet potato slices, radishes, celery, onion, salt and the garlic oil mix.

Spray the centers of 4 20-inch long pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil (I used regular strength) with vegetable oil spray. 

Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with 1/8 teas additional salt and season with pepper.

Place one sheet of foil on the counter and arrange approximately 1/8 (or so) of sweet potato slices in 2 rows. Lay 1 chicken breast or 2 chicken tenders on the sweet potato slices. Place 1/4 of remaining vegetables around the chicken. If you have remaining sweet potatoes place them on top of the chicken. Repeat with remaining 3 sheets of foil. If you have additional oil mix drizzle it on top. Bring the sides of the foil together and crimp tightly, folding the foil over a couple of times. You want to leave some head space in the packs. Crimp the remaining two sides, again leaving as much space as possible while tightly closing the foil.

Refrigerate the packs for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Adjust oven rack to the lowest position and preheat to 475F. Arrange the packs on a rimmed baking sheet and cook until chicken registers 160 degrees, 20-25 minutes. To check temperature the book recommends poking a hole with an instant read thermometer which will release steam. (Authors also recommend using a second 20 inch piece of foil to wrap over existing pack if the chicken isn't cooked. I can't bring myself to waste that much foil, so I just carefully opened one foil pack, watching for steam, and checked the temperature. With care the foil can be crimped a second time.) Let chicken rest for 3 minutes in foil pack.

Transfer the food to individual dinner places, carefully opening the foil. Drizzle the vinegar over the chicken and vegetables and sprinkle with cilantro. 

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