No no no, don't go! Don't worry. This isn't sweet chicken or anything ridiculous. It's vaguely fall-ish and, truthfully, I made it because I wanted to make something on a plate in the shape of a pumpkin. So....I did. With pesto as the stem, because I'm a crazy person.
Truthfully, though, I wanted to make something a little more cutesy-Halloweeny, but I just couldn't make Fetch happen, you know? Overly cutesy isn't me. Seasonal eating, basic b stuff, that's definitely me.
So I did it, and it turned out GREAT. One of the best dinners we've had in a long time. I savory-d up the chicken with some curry powder, used premade pesto for the garnish, and frozen butternut to speed things up. The result was a fancy-feeling dinner with very little effort on my part.
Let's do it.
At some point before you start the chicken (which will grill quickly), you'll make the butternut mash. I used frozen cubes, but you can certainly use fresh! Butternut goes in a pan, cover with chicken stock, bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then take the lid off and let all the stock reduce. Stock goes away, the butternut should be cooked through. THEN, we mash with a spoon or potato masher, swirl in some butter, pepper, and maybe salt. That's it!
Other toppings will be pesto, grated manchego cheese, and toasted pumpkin seeds. All optional but delicious if you have them! Then, the chicken! Boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets. About 5 ounces each, give or take.
Then, spices! The main event here. Cinnamon, curry powder, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. We cook the chicken in butter too, don't tell anyone.
Once everything is prepped, heat a large skillet or grill to medium-high heat with some butter. Sprinkle the spices all over the chicken on both sides.
Then it's a quick sear in the pan, maybe 3 minutes on each side, for the most flavorful chicken you'll find this side of August.
Now, back to that pumpkin! This is totally unnecessary, but I made a pumpkin with my pesto and butternut mixture. Don't be like me. It's like I want to be that Pinteresty mom and everything be cute and seasonal, but actually I DON'T want to be that mom. You know?
Then, I piled on grilled chicken, manchego, and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Dinner! Arugula salad on the side makes a complete meal, but the squash and chicken are what shine here. The pesto kind of works against the super warm spice mixture to brighten everything up, the pumpkin seeds (pepitas) add crunch, and the cheese is just there for good measure. Also, back to that Pinteresty mom thing...Beck ate the entire piece of chicken featured in these pictures in one sitting (with some other stuff), so maybe she'll be like me and like flavor and not care about fake-cute. Probably not, but I'll take it while I can. The point is, though, that this is flavorful but not spicy at all, so your 10-month old can eat it!
Next I'm thinking this spice mixture should go on a big hunk of slow-roasted beef or pork....who knew that pumpkin-spiced meat was even a thing?
Pumpkin Spiced Chicken + Butternut Mash
- 4 thin-cut boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- BUTTERNUT MASH
- 4 cups cubed butternut squash
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 teaspoons prepared pesto
- 4 tablespoons freshly grated manchego cheese
- pepitas toasted pumpkin seeds, for sprinkling
- For the chicken, evenly sprinkle the spices all over both sides of the chicken. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat with a few pats of butter. When the butter melts and browns slightly, add the chicken. Sear for about 3 minutes on each side until the chicken is cooked through, then remove from the heat. Let the chicken rest 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
- For the butternut, add the squash cubes to a skillet (fitted with a lid) with the stock. Cover the skillet with a lid and turn the heat to high. When the stock boils, let boil for 5 minutes then remove the lid and reduce the heat to medium. Continue to boil/simmer the squash until the stock has mostly reduced and the butternut squash is very tender. Mash the squash with a spoon and swirl in the butter. Taste, and add salt and pepper to your preference.
- To serve, top a heap of butternut with a piece of sliced grilled chicken. Top THAT with a dollop of pesto, and a sprinkle of grated manchego and pepitas. Devour.