Review of Sun Basket's Sheet Pan-Roasted Chicken & Sunchokes with Bagna Cauda
I got my first box from Sun Basket the other day, and tucked away inside was this recipe for Sheet Pan-Roasted Chicken with Sunchokes and Bagna Cauda.
After un-packing the box, the first thing I did was look up what the hell bagna cauda was. Turns out it's an anchovy based sauce; which i suspect will scare a few people...but fear not. There was no notion of getting slapped in the face repeatedly with a smelly piece of fish...but rather a fairly mild, salty umami to the sauce that i enjoyed.
The dish itself is quite simple. The chicken breasts are covered with zhug spice (a middle eastern spice blend, and another ingredient I had not heard of) and roasted simply at high temp in the oven. Along with the chicken, is a medley of onion, mushrooms, and sunchokes also roasted in the oven. Once cooked, the veggies are finished off with some fresh parsley, tarragon & and the bagna cauda sauce. The veggies are served as a "base" for the roasted chicken; overall a very healthy, lean dish.
I enjoyed all the flavors (even the new ones), and would happily order this one again. It did eat a little bit dry, and i tended to eat every bite of chicken with one of the pieces of vegetables. I would have loved some kind of sauce...maybe even just a drizzle of olive oil, or squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
The real risk for the home chef is going to be over cooking the chicken. Breasts can get very dry & very tough very fast. The timing on the recipe card was pretty good, but I'd suggest you start checking the chicken at the low end of the range.
The veggies got a bit caramelized, which added good flavor and texture to them; but could have used a bit more time or perhaps a higher temp.
Most impressive was the ease with which this dish came together. There's a bit of prep work chopping the veggies, but that's about it. Everything else is simply thrown on the pan and done in about 25 minutes.
Without a starch component, I'd call the portion size modest, and big eaters may be looking for more. But it would be easy enough to make a side of rice or some other dish.
Overall, I was happy, and give this one a thumbs up.
When I opened up the box from Sun Basket the cold packs were still frozen, the ingredients for this dish packaged together in a spearate bag, and the proteins tucked between the ice packs on the bottom of the box.
Sorting through the ingredients was a snap, and everything that came was labeled organic. The chicken and the produce (mushroom, sunchokes, onions) were all fresh and clean. My one minor complaint was with the fresh herbs. Both the tarragon and the parsley were a bit old & wilted. I would have passed them over in the grocery store, but as they were chopped up and mixed with the cooked veggies, I didn't really notice in the finished dish.
Included in the box was:
- Organic sunchokes
- Organic crimini mushrooms
- Organic red onion
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts (two)
- Zhug spice blend
- Organic parsley
- Organic tarragon
- Bagna cauda sauce
Making the dish
This recipe not only tasted good, it was a snap to make. The recipe card suggests that it should take 25 - 40 minutes (a pretty wide range), and I made it at the low end of that range.
The directions on the recipe card were clear, and there were no complicated techniques that a home chef is going to have much trouble with. If anything, the most difficult thing will be getting the chicken breasts cooked through, without over cooking them.
I highly recommend that you use an instant read meat thermometer, and get the chicken to 160 degrees - no more. That took about 15 minutes in the oven for me, but the time may differ based on your chicken/oven. You may also want to leave the veggies in a bit longer (or start them earlier). I find I like them better when they've caramelized a bit and have some crunchy edges.
Sun Basket breaks cooking the recipe down into just four steps:
- Prep the vegetables: Here you scrub the sunchokes (they grow underground so scrub them well) and the mushrooms and onions. The veggies are kept fairly large, and I like the technique to cut the onion in wedges, through the route - keeping the layers connected. Once chopped you drizzle the vegetables with oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Prep the chicken: The chicken comes wrapped in plastic, which you obviously remove and then pat the chicken dry. On goes the zhug spice, and salt and pepper.
- Roast the vegetables & chicken: Brush a sheet pan (I covered mine with foil) with oil, and the arrange the vegetables on one side, the chicken on the other. The pan goes into a pre-heated 400 degree oven. I would suggest you could go up to 450, to help get more caramelization on everything. The directions suggest cooking for 15 - 20 minutes; turning the chicken and string the veg half way through. My chicken was done closer to 15, and I started to check earlier than that.
- Prep the herbs & finish the vegetables: While the chicken cooks, de-stem the herbs and give the leaves a rough chop. Once the chicken is cooked, take it out of the oven and move to plate to rest for a few minutes. Add the herbs and bagna cauda to the vegetables and toss. You can even put back in the oven while the chicken rests. Plate up the vegetables with the chicken (whole or sliced) on top.
Cooking this was easy...and I think just about anyone could do it. The portion size was modest, but enough for a light dinner, or a normal lunch. Big eaters are going to be looking for more.
Overall I was happy with the flavors in this recipe, but it did eat a little bit dry.
The vegetables were perhaps my favorite component. They got nicely cooked in the oven, maintaining some of the firm texture while also getting a bit caramelized - if anything they could have use a bit more, which you can get with a higher temp. The herbs and the bagna cauda sauce added a nice flavor to them, and they made a great match with the chicken.
The chicken tasted fine. The zhug spice is a combination of coriander, cumin, cardamom, cayenne and cloves and provided a nice flavor to the chicken. That said, in the oven, the chicken doesn't really get browned/crusty so there's not a lot of texture or caramelized flavor. And even well cooked, it eats a bit dry without a sauce of it's own. A drizzle of olive oil, or some fresh lemon, would help quite a bit.
Sun Basket's Sheet Pan-Roasted Chicken & Sunchokes with Bagna Cauda
The biggest thing that jumped out for me on this dish is the ease of cooking. It was a snap. About 5 - 10 minutes of prep, and 15 - 20 minutes of cooking. No complicated techniques or directions.
The meal also had a nice "exotic" quality to it. The sunchokes, bagna caudo and zhug spice are interesting, and nice flavors that most people don't get every day.
And those good elements outweighed the "bad". The chicken itself could have used a sauce. The portion size was a bit on the small side. But neither of those ruined the dish for me. In fact both contributed to it being a pretty healthy dish.
I was happy with this one, give it a thumbs up and would order it again. Use the link below to get a discount off Sun Basket.