Joseph Leonard’s James McDuffee Shares his Recipe for Pan-roasted Chicken Breast with Baby Carrots, Turnips, and Mashed Potatoes


For a small, quaint West Village restaurant, Joseph Leonard has had a difficult time staying out of the press since it opened last summer. Even after the opening buzz died down, it made headlines for serving Cheerios and boxed water, having a car crash into it, and for owner Gabriel Stulman’s various legal entanglements with his former business partners. For all the fuss and fanfare, the place still manages to turn out successful takes on simple, seasonal American, like the recipe for this Pan-roasted Chicken Breast with Baby Carrots, Turnips, and Mashed Potatoes, which Chef James McDuffee shares.

“It’s just simple, anytime food, prepared very well, with great ingredients,” he says of the dish.

Pan Roasted Chicken Breast with Baby Carrots, Turnips, and Mashed Potatoes

Yield: 4

For the Carrots and Turnips:

1 bunch baby carrots, peeled and halved
1 bunch baby turnips, peeled and halved
2 sweet carrots, chopped into bite-size pieces

In separate pots, cover each vegetable in cold water and add a little salt. Over medium-high heat, bring each up to a simmer, but do not boil. Root vegetables cook more evenly and tend to not get mushy when you cook them slowly. Cook them until they just lose their crunch, remove from the water, and place in the refrigerator.

For the Mashed Potatoes:

4 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 lb butter, cubed
salt and white pepper, to taste

Make sure the potatoes are peeled and diced evenly. The exact size does not matter as much as cutting them evenly, which will allow for even cooking. In a pot, cover the potatoes in cold water and add a little salt. Over high-medium heat, bring them to a simmer, but do not boil. Cook them until you are able to pass a spoon through a piece and it appears flaky all the way through.

In a separate pot, combine the milk and cream, and bring them to a simmer. Remove from heat. Remove the water from the potatoes, and place the them back in the pot. With a whisk, smash the potatoes, then slowly add your milk and cream until the potatoes reach the desired consistency. Fold in the cold, cubed butter, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. For the Pan Roasted Chicken:

4 chicken breasts (ask your butcher to supreme them by removing the meat from the wing bone)
2-4 tbsp canola oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chicken stock (a store-bought salt-free natural broth works best)
2 tbsp butter

Place a large skillet over high heat until it’s nearly smoking. The heavier the bottom of the pan, the better. Add the canola oil, and season the chicken breasts as desired on both sides with salt and pepper. Arrange the four breasts in the pan, skin side down, being careful not to overcrowd the pan or burn yourself with splashing grease. Leave the pan on the flame until the heat returns to it, about three minutes.

Remove the pan from the fire, and place it on the bottom shelf of an oven preheated to 400 degrees F. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the breast is firm at the bone. Part of the secret to moist, juicy chicken is not to overcook it: it should be just cooked all the way through. Check the skin side of your breasts every so often to make sure that they are not burning. Having a heavier bottom pan is important to ensure that the skin cooks evenly.

Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan, and remove the fat from the pan. Add the chicken stock and place it back on the flame. Toss in your cooked vegetables, and bring to a simmer. Once you have just enough sauce for your four plates, remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the butter. Adjust your seasoning with salt, and serve.


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