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How To Make The Best Healthy Chicken and Broccoli
A favorite dish, chicken and broccoli, make it healthy for your next party.
It's a dish that I love to serve, but especially love to eat, chicken and broccoli. Even though it is one of my favorite recipes, sometimes it can be bland and boring, so I have figured out how to make the best healthy chicken and broccoli with tons of flavor. I have served this dish a number of times to big crowds at events like New Year's Eve parties, but have also served it on a weeknight to my family and it seems to satisfy everyone. Plus, the leftovers are even better the next day, so making extra is always a good thing. Just like my healthy chicken cacciatore recipe here.
Let's first start with what ingredients you will need. Remember how important it is to eat real food and be healthy. The most prominent ingredient is the chicken, so of course you want to make sure it is as fresh as possible and naturally organic as we talked about here. Vegetarian fed skinless chicken tenders are the best choice for this dish. I usually get about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds, depending on the number of people I am serving. 1 1/2 pounds of broccoli crowns, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 cup of your favorite white wine, 1 red pepper, 1 medium sweet onion, 1 box of low sodium fat free chicken broth, extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon of sugar, salt and pepper.
In preparation to cook your broccoli and pasta, start by filling a large stock pot with 1/2 of the low sodium fat free chicken broth (one of the flavor secrets) and the rest with water. Put the pot on the stove top, cover, set at high heat and bring to a boil. I find that preparing the broccoli and putting it aside is the best bet when making this dish. Chop up your broccoli into medium sized pieces, not too small, but not too big, you want to make sure it can fit into your mouth in one bite. Boil the broccoli for 4 minutes, pull out with a slotted spoon into a colander and then shock it with cold water to stop the broccoli from further cooking. Keep your hot water at a lower temp and then raise it back up to high when you are ready to cook your pasta.
Meanwhile, it is worth taking the time to remove the long strings of fat from each tender, which is a pretty easy task once you get the hang of it. Use a small non-serated knife, hold the very end of the string and carefully run your knife down the length of the chicken and pull out. On another plate, mix the flour with 1 tablespoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper (preferably cracked). While a large stainless steel frying pan is warming up at medium heat with 4 tablespoons of olive oil, carefully cover each tender with the flour mixture and shake off excess. Once pan is heated, place 5-6 pieces of chicken into the olive oil making sure not to overcrowd the pan. It's important to brown the chicken and not steam it, so proper spacing is essential. Continue to cook the remainder of chicken and place it on a plate lined with paper towels and put aside.
Now that your chicken and broccoli are finished, it is time to create the flavor of this dish. There will be a fond, or caramelized food bits, leftover from cooking the chicken at the bottom of the pan, which is the base of your delicious sauce. Put 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour in the pan and create a roux, making sure it turns a light brown color and all the flour taste is cooked out. Next, pour in your white wine, the pan will respond to this in a somewhat dramatic way, but use a wooden spoon and work the remainder of the fond off the bottom of the pan while letting the wine cook down. Add in the rest of your chicken broth, the garlic and continue to let the sauce simmer. The roux that you created will slowly thicken your sauce while the garlic and chicken broth adds tremendous flavor.
While your sauce is being created, julianne the red pepper and saute' it at medium to high heat in a small sauce pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. The goal is to cook the pepper quickly and get some color on it for additional flavor. Once browned, stir them into the sauce. There is only one more ingredient to add, chop up your onion and put into the same pepper pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and a little salt and pepper and let caramelize. Cook down your onion until lightly browned and sweetened and then add to your sauce. Turn up your hot water to boiling.
Once the flavors have come together, which should take about 10-15 minutes, add your chicken back into the pan, cover with the sauce and place the broccoli on top to warm through. Add 1/2 box of whole grain angel hair pasta, or pasta of choice, Barilla is my favorite, cook 3-4 minutes (making sure not to overcook because it will finish within the dish) and pour into the colander. Combine your chicken broccoli mixture and then stir in the pasta while folding all of the sauce through, top with parmigiana cheese and tada, you've learned how to make the best healthy chicken and broccoli.