Thursday, September 8, 2011

Oven Roasted Chicken Breast Over Garlic Sautéed Fresh Asparagus, Colombian Baby Potatoes, and a Saffron Red Pepper sauce Paired with 2009 Finca Enguera Verdil

Oven Roasted Seasoned Chicken Breast over Garlic Sauteed Asparagus with Colombian Baby Potatoes and Red Pepper Sauce

Simple is good.  Carrying on from my recent simple treatment of cod, bay scallops and shrimp, I was inspired to make something similarly uncomplicated with chicken breast, baby potatoes, and asparagus.  As a matter of fact, other than the saffron red pepper sauce, this meal is so simple a recipe is not required.  It is so easy, you can prepare it any night after work with very little effort – about 20 minutes.  Honestly, the most time consuming part of this pairing is making a trip to your favorite wine merchant to pick a bottle of something new and interesting.

Seasoned Chicken Breast

Speaking of pairing, this meal is about simple and straight forward flavors.  The only standout flavor comes from the saffron and red pepper combination.  The sauce is mild an delicious – the fact that this is the dominant flavor in the dish (and it is quite a subtle flavor), leaves the pairing options wide open.  I’m quite sure that anything from a bright Pinot Grigio to a big full bodied bodied Chardonnay could be a pleasurable pairing.  I decided on a Spanish wine – a 2009 Finca Enguera Verdil. The Verdil grape is much like the Verdejo and produces full-bodied, strong acidity, medium alcohol content wine featuring tropical fruits, ripe peaches and notable minerality.  Verdil, also known as Verdosilla, is grown in south-eastern Spain and mostly used in Yecla and Valencia. When looking for familiar landmarks in tasting this wine, numerous different grapes can be referenced - from Viognier to Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay - there are fascinating and very tasty components that line up in this Verdil.

2010 Finca Enguera Valencia Verdil

The 2009 Finca Enguera Verdil nose is a blend of mixed peaches and plums with a gorgeous light minerality. The palate starts with lush kiwi fruit and a blissful lime and pink grapefruit marriage leading to healthy acidity. There’s a note of almond skin and peach pit in the background that descends to a lengthy finish featuring the stone fruits we started with. At $10, this wine is a tasty bargain.

2010 Finca Enguera Valencia Verdil-1

As I mentioned at the onset, pairing with this meal would be hard to screw up.  The flavors were direct and uncomplicated.  The chicken breasts were prepared by seasoning on all sides with salt and pepper and roasting in a preheated oven for 18 minutes – turning once at the 9 minute mark.  The asparagus was sautéed in a touch of olive oil with a tablespoon of minced garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper just before taking off the heat.  You will find the recipe for the saffron red pepper sauce at the end of this post.

Garlic Sauteed Asparagus

But here is the surprise – the Colombian baby potatoes were not just something to fill the plate.  These little babies are spectacular.  Chef Sue and I learned of this wonderfully simple and tasty preparation while living in Venezuela.  We learned about Colombian baby potatoes from our housekeeper affectionately known as Santa Cecilia.  Cecilia is a wonderful woman who taught our family many valuable lessons – and how to make Colombian baby potatoes.  One day I came home from work and found Cecilia in the kitchen.  I asked what she was cooking, and she replied “papas colombianas” (Colombian potatoes).  Before writing this post, I tried to research recipes for Colombian potatoes but drew a blank.  However, Santa Cecilia told me they were papas colombianas, and therefore they will always be called so in my kitchen.  The preparation could not be easier.  Boil potatoes until fork tender, drain and place in a large bowl.  Drizzle some good olive oil over the potatoes, then turn the potatoes by hand ensuring they all get a nice coating of oil.  Spread the potatoes on a large sheet pan then season with salt and pepper.  The oil makes the salt and pepper stick to the potatoes and gives you a perfectly seasoned bite every time.  Thank you Santa Cecilia!

Oven Roasted Seasoned Chicken Breast over Garlic Sauteed Asparagus with Colombian Baby Potatoes and Red Pepper Sauce-1

With direct simple flavors of the chicken, garlic asparagus and red pepper sauce, each component was able to shine and not be obscured.  The same was true for the 2009 Finca Enguera Verdil which added a pleasant citrus note complimenting the chicken perfectly.  Overall, this was a pleasant pairing that was easy on the wallet, and is another example of how simple preparation can achieve exceptional results.


Saffron Red Pepper Sauce


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2  cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 red peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • Pinch saffron
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Heat oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft.
  3. Add the red peppers, vinegar, water and saffron and bring to a simmer.
  4. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Place in a blender and blend until smooth, season with salt and pepper to taste.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.



  1. Dear Craig.

    I am Alvaro de Nieves from Bodegas Enguera (producer of Finca Enguera Verdil). Thank you so much for your comments.

    BEst wishes from Valencia.

  2. Alvaro,

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a note. We enjoyed the wine tremendously and will be looking for more wines from Bodegas Eguera!