I found this recipe for “Spa Chicken” in my 2011 America’s Test Kitchen Light & Healthy Cookbook. The title of the recipe has a perfectly logical explanation – If you go on vacation to a fancy spa resort, often you will be served a lot of boneless, skinless chicken dishes. There are a variety of reasons for this, but primarily this is because people at spas are often fitness-focused, and the boneless chicken breast is one of the healthiest proteins out there. One of the healthiest methods to prepare chicken is without using any added fat, which means either boiling, steaming, or poaching the chicken.
This recipe manages to achieve flavorful, healthy, not at all rubbery, delicious chicken dish.
Of course, when I saw the name of this recipe and the method by which it was achieved, I couldn’t help but develop a mental image in my head of a chicken actually going to a spa. I mean, c’mon, think about it… whenever you go to those fancy spas you always drink some sort of exotic orange-flavor water and hang out in jacuzzis or steam rooms. This chicken gets the same royal treatment. It gets to hang out in a gentle-simmer flavored broth and soak up the deliciousness until it is juicy and tender. Then it gets to have an exotic skin treatment concocted of fresh ingredients like oranges and apricots and warm spices. This chicken has gotten a $500 resort treatment!
Or maybe I’m just delusional….
Start by patting the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and then season with salt and pepper. Combine the water, garlic, thyme and soy sauce in a 12-inch skillet. Add the chicken and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, 10 to 15 minutes.
When the water simmers, flip the chicken, cover and continue to cook until the chicken registers 160 to 165 degrees, about 10 to 15 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, begin working on your sauce.
Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat until just shimmering. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and chipotles and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the orange juice and apricots, bring to a simmer, and cook until the apricots are plump and the sauce measures 3/4 cup, 3 to 5 minutes.
Off the heat, stir in the orange pieces, cilantro, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer the chicken to a carving board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for about 5 minutes.
Cut the chicken breasts on a bias into 1/2-inch thick slices and add 1/4 cup of the sauce.
- 4 (6oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tsps low-sodium soy sauce
Apricot-Orange Chipotle Sauce
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
- Salt and Pepper
- Calories: 190
- Fat: 2g
- Saturated Fat: 0.5g
- Cholesterol: 100mg
- Carbohydrates: 0g
- Protein: 39g
- Fiber: 0g
- Sodium: 180mg
Sauce (1/4 cup serving):
- Calories: 90
- Fat: 1.5g
- Saturated Fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
- Carbohydrates: 20g
- Protein: 1g
- Fiber: 2g
- Sodium: 0mg
Original Recipe, America’s Test Kitchen Light & Healthy 2011