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BN Cuisine with Chef Alex: Citrus Habanero Chicken

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Chef Alex - picLet’s get straight to business.

Now, my people know that I’m a pastry chef by trade, and although I love what I do, nobody else is going to cook my dinner (sad panda face). So yes, I do in fact cook savoury food, however my pastry background usually compels me to combine very different ingredients to create bold (and often wacky) flavour profiles. I especially love the chemistry between fiery peppers and fragrant fruits, or earthy nuts and sweet syrups.

I need nutritive food that can power long days on my feet, cooking. At night, I’m usually in the mood for a lean dinner that can fuel tissue growth and repair without inducing a food coma or weighing me down the next morning, i.e. chicken breast.

One of my go-to recipes is a honey glazed citrus habanero chicken breast, and today I’ve paired it with an avocado, sundried tomato and peanut pesto and sweet potato chips, and garnished with a desiccated slice of ruby red grapefruit.

The best part of this recipe is how easy it is to make, you’ll just need a bit of time to let the chips dry up in the oven!

For the chicken:
2 chicken breasts
Juice and zest from half an orange, lemon and grapefruit
½ white or yellow onion, diced.
3-4 habaneros (ata rodo or scotch bonnet peppers), rough chopped
½ – 1tsp. salt
A dash of regular (or smoked) paprika
1tbsp. honey

For the pesto:
½ cup, peanuts
½ avocado
1tbsp. chopped cilantro
½ tsp. regular (or smoked) paprika
1tbsp. honey
1tbsp. chopped sundried tomatoes
1tbsp. mustard (or 2tbsp. Provençale mustard)
Salt to taste, water to adjust the consistency

For the chips and garnish:
1x fairly large sweet potato, sliced very thinly
½ grapefruit, sliced very thinly
Icing sugar, salt, paprika

How To
Cut two or three very thin grapefruit slices and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper, dust lightly with icing sugar. 1
Cut the sweet potato in the same way and place on another paper-lined tray, sprinkle generously with salt and paprika. 23

Bake these two in the oven for 2 hours at a very low 80 degrees Celsius. Remove them and flip each individual chip, then bake for another 1-2 hours until dry. 4(the grapefruit garnish can be done at a different time and stored; the sweet potato chips can also be deep fried for more flavour, albeit less healthy)

Rinse and place the chicken breasts in a bowl, add the chopped onion, habaneros, citrus zests and juices. DO NOT ADD SALT YET! Mix and cover, marinade at room temperature for at least an hour (or overnight in the fridge for maximum flavour infusion). 5

Combine the pesto ingredients (except for the avocado) in a blender and use the pulse function, adjusting with water until the desired consistency is reached. Mash the avocado with a spoon and stir it up the other blended ingredients like Bob Marley. 6

Turn the oven on to 210 Celsius. Place an oven-ready frying pan on the stove to high with a drizzle of olive oil and allow to heat up. Sear the chicken breasts on either side for about 3-5 minutes, adding the salt and paprika to taste. 7 Glaze the topsides with honey and place in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until ready. 8

Plate and enjoy! 9

10

These elements sure make for a pretty plate, and it’s a great recipe to woo your wife/husband or bf/gf with on a Saturday night.

Sigh…if only.

Get creative, change it up, be bold, and c’mon, live a little!

Until next time ladies and gents, remember to cook with class and serve with style!

Alex Oke is a Nigerian chef who’s patently passionate about bread, pastry and confections. He trained in classical/contemporary French cuisine at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Canada, and currently lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria. Follow his personal and culinary adventures on Instagram @alexcooksfood, where he currently photoblogs.

23 Comments

  1. bb

    April 3, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Lol @ spouse comment. Meanwhile I would love to try this but what is pesto?

    • Alex

      April 4, 2015 at 2:18 am

      Traditional pesto is basil, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil blended together, but modern interpretations can have pretty much anything in them.

  2. faith

    April 3, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    #sighs.
    Half of the ingredients are alien to my food recipe, I can’t possibly see myself going this struggle. Cos I have a strangely huge appetite. .
    Chef Alex.. All these trouble for that small plate of food.. I’ll gladly pass.
    The creative me will eat avocado separately, fry the sweet potato and do chicken sauce. Lick the honey & fiddle with my phone. Maybe do grapefruit smoothie.

    • madamnk

      April 3, 2015 at 5:43 pm

      lmaoo! this made me laugh

    • Alex

      April 4, 2015 at 2:13 am

      A large appetite isn’t strange at all, I think it’s incredibly attractive :D. At the end of the day, you know what impresses you (or your husband or wife, I dunno your gender) and you set your menu accordingly. I see the culinary world as a multi-story building, many floors, many possibilities. A recipe is only an elevator (if you get in it, it can expedite your ability to explore), but you get to pick the floor you’re trying to get to. Some would rather take the stairs, others just stay stuck on the first floor. I appreciate your feedback…and with a name like Faith, I’d hope you’d at least give it a shot. Have some faith, you might enjoy it :D. There’s a version with fried sweet potatoes on my website (for those who are less health conscious).

    • faith

      April 4, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      Thank you for that well thought out reply, Chef Alex. The honest truth is that I have spent most of my life in the hostel not home. From secondary school to the university days. You cant be that choosy when it comes to what’s on your table. Basic culinary skills has not really been my forte. I intend to explore & exploit my culinary world once I’m done with my professional exams. I’m female.

  3. tunmi

    April 3, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    YES!!! He is single!!!! It is unfair to automatically assume he’s into women. Even if he isn’t, he is foine for days. Now the food…can I add some rice?

    • Alex

      April 4, 2015 at 2:14 am

      Single, into women. Currently married to my profession :p

    • bruno

      April 4, 2015 at 10:25 am

      beyond devastated by this news. why? why? why?

      I was planning our future together, you doing all the cooking and me doing all the eating.

      you love to cook, I love to eat. cant you see, this is a match made in (food) heaven. *crying*

  4. S!

    April 3, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Use my oven for 4hrs? NEPA doesn’t give me light for 4hrs at a stretch.
    Where’s the rice?

  5. Anon

    April 3, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Nice! I’m actually tempted to make this for dinner tonight. Seems easy to make and is healthy… Thank you handsome and talented chef for the detailed recipe with pics! 😉 I wanna see more recipes please.

  6. bruno

    April 3, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    im sure when he’s at home, he cooks shirtless.

    I can imagine him making me breakfast in the morning, shirtless. YES LAWD!!!

    • Beeeee

      April 4, 2015 at 3:38 am

      Lmao…..Bruno ayyyyyy

  7. Person

    April 3, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Now, this is a recipe I can try. I love citrus so right up my alley. But that dessicated grapefruit is a long thing!

    • Alex

      April 4, 2015 at 2:23 am

      I know! That’s the pastry chef in me acting a fool. It’s only for appearances (to impress someone ;), remember that you can switch it up and personalise the recipe as you see fit.

  8. poison Ivy

    April 3, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    Bruno clear off,the boy is mine!!
    chef alex………yes i’ll marry you#sideeye

  9. How

    April 3, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    I have never seen that color of sweet potatoes in Nigeria o

  10. Beeeee

    April 4, 2015 at 3:41 am

    I would definitely be trying this. The chicken part looks really easy for someone like me with a busy schedule and hungry mouths to feed at the end of the day. But the busy woman in me would fry those sweet potatoes in five minutes…lol……Great recipe!

  11. Christop

    April 4, 2015 at 11:01 am

    hey alex, greetings sir. it would be kind if i could get an email or some level of contacting you please. many thanks + keep up the great work. Cheers

  12. sisi

    April 4, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Forget the food I want the man.yuuuummmmyyy.

    • Oluwaseun

      April 4, 2015 at 4:35 pm

      Lol… @sisi, I second you and I’m a man too.

  13. Fabulous B

    April 5, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    LMAO it seems everyone’s concentration is on chef Alex not the food. I must confess he’s attractive; a man who can cook is beautiful. Nice one chef.

  14. halia

    April 10, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    I know im late in the convo but man this looks super delicious! #Musttry #mytastebudsareonfire

    pinterest.com/haliamalame

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