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Chicken Breasts with Roast Pumpkin, Rosemary Oil and Pennywort or Wood Sorrel or Purslane

Pennywort is easy to find, it thrives on stone walls in damp atmosphere. It's a delicious little succulent that's also called 'bread and butter' or the 'walkers friend' because the round juicy leaves are thought to be thirst quenching.


Note – At Ballymaloe Cookery School, we use organic chicken – the chicken breast can be 225 – 300g (8-10oz) so divide in half or butterfly before cooking.

Serves 4

4 x 150g (5oz) free range chicken breasts (fillet removed) (skinless)

2 tablespoon (2 1/2 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons chopped rosemary

Rosemary Oil

110ml (4fl oz/1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) freshly chopped rosemary

roast pumpkin or butternut squash, 4cm (1 1/2 inch) cubes approximately (see recipe)

Pennywort or Wood Sorrel or Purslane in season (optional)

sprigs of rosemary

To Serve

Homemade Mayonnaise (see recipe)

Potato Wedges (see recipe)

First make the rosemary oil.  

Heat the chopped rosemary gently in the oil until hot but not smoking.  Cool and strain.

An hour before cooking, season the chicken with Maldon sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and chopped rosemary.

Preheat the pan-grill on a high heat.*  Cook the chicken for approx. 4 minutes on each side on a medium heat, turning each after a few minutes to give a criss-cross effect. The cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken breast - when fully cooked the juices will run clear but be careful not to overcook or it will be dull and dry.

To Serve

Serve the chicken on individual hot serving plates, drizzle with rosemary oil and garnish with a sprig of rosemary, cubes of roast pumpkin or butternut squash (see recipe) and Pennywort or Wood Sorrel or Purslane if available.  Serve with homemade mayonnaise (see recipe) and potato wedges (see recipe).

*N.B. Just before cooking.

If the chicken breasts are larger, cut in half at an angle.



2 egg yolks, preferably free range

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch of English mustard or 1/4 teaspoon French mustard

1 dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) white wine vinegar

225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) oil (sunflower or olive oil or a mixture) - We use 175ml (6fl oz3/4 cup) sunflower oil and 50ml (2fl oz/1/4 cup) olive oil, alternatively use 7/1

Serve with cold cooked meats, fowl, fish, eggs and vegetables.

Put the egg yolks into a bowl with the salt, mustard and the white wine vinegar (keep the whites to make meringues). Put the oil into a measure. Take a whisk in one hand and the oil in the other and drip the oil onto the egg yolks, drop by drop whisking at the same time to create an emulsion. Within a minute you will notice that the mixture is beginning to thicken. When this happens you can add the oil a little faster, but don't get too complacent or it will suddenly curdle because the egg yolks can only absorb the oil at a certain pace. Taste and add a little more seasoning and vinegar if necessary.

If the Mayonnaise curdles (splits) it will suddenly become quite thin, and if left sitting the oil will start to float to the top of the sauce. If this happens you can quite easily rectify the situation by putting another egg yolk into a clean bowl, then whisk in the curdled Mayonnaise, a half teaspoon at a time until it emulsifies again.  Alternatively, if you catch it just as it begins to curdle, you can sometimes rescue the situation by whisking in 1-2 tablespoons (1 1/4 – 2 1/2 American tablespoons) of hot water.

This is a recipe by
Darina Allen
View all my recipes

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