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Aromatic Roast Chicken Breasts

I have been searching for the unusual combination of a savoury dish with vanilla aromatics ever since travelling through French Polynesia - they have mastered cooking with this fragrant bean due to its production on the island of Taha'a. Combining coconut milk into the rice adds an extra dimension to this dish, giving it a Polynesian feel. In this recipe the vanilla sings in the background without being too overpowering thanks to the soy and lemon. I cook this with fish as well - as was the classic in Tahiti with a coconut and vanilla sauce - cooking time is slightly less depending on the size of the fillets used. Pour the sauce over the finished dish to help keep it all moist and deepen the flavours. 

"A very easy and very yummy chicken recipe. Even tastes good without the vanilla bean"– Angela Woerlee.

Pictured: Aromatic Roast Chicken Breasts

1 vanilla bean
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp grated palm sugar or soft brown sugar
1 - 2 tbsp grated lemon zest, depending how lemony you like it
4 boneless chicken breasts, for extra flavour leave skin on
Juice of 3 - 4 lemons
4 tbsp olive oil
50g snow peas (mange tout) shoots
Steamed Coconut Rice
400g white long grain rice
750ml light coconut milk
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp butter

Preheat the oven 200°C.

Using a sharp knife, slice the vanilla bean in half lengthways and scrape the seeds into a bowl (reserve the vanilla pod for another use). Add the soy sauce, sugar and lemon zest and stir to combine.
Using a sharp knife, cut several long incisions into the skin of each chicken breast, then rub the soy mixture into the skin. Put the lemon juice and olive oil in a small casserole dish or baking dish and add the chicken breasts, skin side up.
Roast for 20 – 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, you can test by piercing with a skewer and if the juices run clear rather than pink it is ready.
Carve each chicken breast into several thick slices.

Coconut rice (serves 6 as a side dish) - Put the rice in a large bowl and cover with water. Stir several times, and then drain away the water. Repeat this process several times to remove some of the starch from t he rice.
Put the washed rice and all the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Cover the saucepan and cook for 30 minutes.

Serve with the snow pea shoots on a bed of steamed coconut rice, with the baking juices over the top.

Serves 4