I have a real aversion to buying chicken breast meat. It’s easy to overcook, bland and expensive. I would much rather buy a whole chicken or those packs of legs and thighs and anyway, I don’t really like to cook in individual portions, and with chicken breast meat, it has to be individual portions, unless you are cutting it up for curries, skewers or goujons. What if someone is really hungry? It doesn’t sit comfortably with my ethos of passing round a generous platters of food for everyone to help themselves from.
A few years ago, I watched Donna Hay on television, cooking and baking hew way to exquisite looking food. I was mesmerised as much by the incredble view of the sea outside her kitchen window as by her effortless styling of the food on the plates. She cooked some chicken breasts and halloumi together with a drizzle of honey and it stuck in my mind. Despite my reservations about breast meat, I’ve made this a few times with a few tweaks, here and there.
I’ve added shallots and garlic for a deeper flavour and included a dash of pomegranate molasses to balance the sweetness of the honey. You end up with the salty halloumi, the warmth of the thyme, the sweet honey and the sharp pomegranate molasses which are the perfect foil to the breast meat.
I’ve made this with both skin on and skinless chicken breasts and prefer it with the skin left on. It protects the meat from drying out and also adds a crispy note to the textures. The version below is skinless only because that is what I unearthed when rummaging in the freezer, wondering what to cook for dinner later!
It could not be simpler to throw together – all in the one dish that you can also bring to the table. It’s a brilliant mid week family supper, just make extra to make me feel better!
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Chicken and Halloumi with Honey & Thyme
Inspired by Donna Hay
- 2 chicken breasts, skin on
- 4 x 1 inch slices of halloumi cheese
- 2 x banana shallots or 1 small onion, quartered
- 2 cloves of garlic, halved
- 10-15 stalks of thyme, leaves stripped
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses or lemon juice
- Black pepper
- salad leaves
- steamed green vegetables like green beans or broccoli.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F and lightly oil a baking dish
- Place the chicken breasts and the halloumi in an oven safe dish that will fit everything snugly.
- Scatter around the shallots and garlic.
- Mix the olive oil, honey and pomegranate molasses with most of the thyme leaves, in a small bowl and spoon it over the chicken, halloumi, shallots and garlic. Scatter over the remaining thyme and black pepper. You won’t need salt as halloumi is quite a salty cheese.
- Roast in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the halloumi is golden. Baste with the pan juices once or twice in that time.
- Serve on a handful of salad leaves using the pan juices as a salad dressing.