6 March 2015

1.05 Spiced Chicken w/ Sweet Potato Mash & Spinach Aioli - Intermediate - Meat & Poultry

I developed this recipe a couple of years ago after one of my friends and his fiancé decided to switch to the Paleo Diet (a.k.a. the Caveman Diet or the Stone Age Diet). This is a diet that is based around ingredients that Paleolithic man might have consumed, and can be quite difficult to cook around as dairy, sugars, flours, and a whole bunch of other ingredients are completely off the menu (literally).

As I haven’t yet had the chance to make this for my friend, maybe they can make it for themselves, and hopefully everyone enjoys it.

Don’t let the fact that this was “diet inspired” scare you away, as it’s actually a really great dish and I make it fairly often.

As with all Paleo Diet recipes, it is worth adding that this is both Gluten Free and Lactose Free.


3 large chicken breasts
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tsp ground sumac
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

Sumac, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is a Middle Eastern spice which is made from dried berries and has a tangy citrus-like flavour. Cumin, by comparison, has a strong earthy flavour. Together, I think they make a very good combination.

You could also use these fillets for burgers if you want to, but at that point it’s probably not going to be part of the Paleo Diet!


1. Slice the chicken fillets in half lengthways. (Try to keep them as even as possible. If you can get a butcher who will do this for you, or find a store that already sells them like this, then that would be just fine.)

2. With a meat mallet, flatten each piece of chicken until it is roughly 1/2 cm (or 1/5 inch) thick. (TIP: If you’ve never done this before, try not to hit it too hard, and start at the thickest point.)

3. In a bowl, mix together the garlic, sumac, cumin and olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper until combined.

4. Brush each chicken fillet with the spiced oil and place aside to marinate for at least 15 minutes. (Overnight is better.)

5. Place a grill pan over a high heat and grill the fillets for approx. 2 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. (You could also do this on a barbeque.)

6. Remove from the pan/grill, cover with foil and place aside until ready to assemble the dish.


500g sweet potato, peeled and diced
1/3 cup Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

This is just a really basic mash. Keep in mind that this is also Paleo Diet safe. If you want to start adding butter and/or cream then it’s no longer part of the diet.


1. In a pot, bring some water to the boil with a generous pinch of salt.

2. Add the sweet potato and cook for 10-15 minutes or until soft.

3. Drain the sweet potato and place into a bowl.

4. Add the oil, salt and pepper and mash together until the preferred consistency is reached. (Some people like it chunky, some like it smooth. Either way is good! The amount of oil used will also change the end consistency.)

5. Taste it, and add any extra oil, salt and/or pepper as preferred.

6. Place aside until ready to assemble.


25g baby spinach leaves, chopped, steamed and cooled
3 large egg yolks
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
Salt and pepper

As there’s already garlic in the chicken marinade, the last thing I wanted to do was add more here. Well, that’s not entirely true, I LOVE garlic! But the people around you will probably thank you for leaving it out.

After considering the colours of the final dish, I decided that something green would look best, so I settled on spinach. It all seems to work well altogether, but if you’d prefer to make a traditional aioli, just remove the spinach and add in 1 clove of minced garlic and 2 tsp cold water.

For this recipe, I think a fruity olive oil works better than a peppery one. For those of you who didn’t know that extra virgin olive oil came in different flavours, I encourage you to look into this and experiment a bit. Varietal olive oils (such as pictual and hojiblanca) can be a fair bit pricier, but the flavours are worth it in my opinion.

On the other end of the spectrum, I use grapeseed oil specifically because it has little to no flavour of its own. Using only olive oil can result in a bitter aioli, so you just want to mellow the flavours that are already there. You could use canola or sunflower oil instead of grapeseed oil if you can’t find it.


1. Place the egg yolks, spinach, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper into a deep bowl or a jug.

2. Using a stick blender, blend these ingredients until combined and the spinach is mostly shredded.

3. Pour the oils into another jug and mix together.

4. While continuing to blend the egg and spinach mixture, slowly pour in the mixed oils until it is all incorporated and the mixture is thick and creamy.

5. Cover and place into the fridge until assembling the dish.


In all honesty, you can do this however you like. I find that this way seems to look visually impressive and appetising.


1. Place a generous dollop of the sweet potato mash into the middle of a plate.

2. Add some kind of green vegetable to the plate. (I usually steam or boil some asparagus or broccolini.)

3. Place a fillet of the grilled chicken on top at an angle.

4. Spoon over some of the spinach aioli.

5. Eat!

Serves 3-6 (depending on how Caveman-like your Paleo friends really are!).

A video of this recipe is also available - http://youtu.be/gd2-caexsEE.

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