Cooking with YachtSea Grille Chef Rov Avila: Brighten up your dishes with citrus

April 9, 2014 

Spring is the air … and so is the scent of oranges.

The cooler, more comfortable weather of spring inspires me to come up with dishes that can be light, yet satisfying. It is also a way for me to start using more citrus in my cooking.

I'm partial to citrus flavors because I grew up in Honduras, where limes are an important part of everyday cooking.

Oranges are easy to come by in Florida, and I love to incorporate them in my dishes as much as possible, whether it's using the juices to make sauces, desserts or salad dressings. You can also use citrus to marinate meats and poultry, or to add a little extra zing to almost any dish by adding some zest.

The many ways in which citrus can be used in the kitchen are endless, and I highly encourage everyone to do so in their home kitchens.

Here is one of my favorite ways to incorporate citrus into a main dish.

Rosemary Orange Poached Chicken

4 chicken breasts

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of cracked black pepper

1- 1/2 tablespoons of finely minced rosemary

Orange zest

3 ounces butter

Juice from 6 oranges (Valencia are preferred but any orange will do)

2 cups of heavy cream

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 ounces water

Season the chicken with the salt, pepper and half the rosemary and all of the orange juice in a container so that the chicken will be submerged in the orange juice cover and let marinate in refrigerator for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Once the marinating process is over, remove the chicken from the marinade and cook in a separate pan with butter to give it a nice sear on both sides of the breast. When chicken is nicely seared on both sides, remove from pan and let rest for a few minutes then add the marinade to the pan and let come to a light simmer.

Add the heavy cream, mix thoroughly and let come to a light simmer again (medium low heat). While you wait for the simmer, mix the water and cornstarch in a separate container. Once completely mixed, add to the simmering poaching liquid in the pan and mix. This will help thicken the liquid.

Incorporate chicken back into the liquid, cover it and let cook for about 8-10 minutes on low. Serve with rice.

Rov Avila, a native of Honduras, is executive chef at YachtSea Grille and a culinary arts instructor at MTI Culinary Arts.

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