Recipe - Spicy chicken in a pepper sauce

by Mads
December 29, 2006 at 22:41 | categories: food, cooking

Spicy chicken in a pepper sauce

I've written about this before in A birthday dinner. I also promised a recipe, but never got around to it.
The recipe is from The Elements of Taste by Gray Kunz and Peter Kaminsky.
The recipe originally calls for scallops, but I can't find any of reasonable size around here, so I chose chicken instead. The chicken works pretty well from a taste perspective and does have the advantage that you can cook it in two stages, first browning it with the breading and later finishing it off in the oven.

Pink lentil, turmeric and green peppercorn breading (pg. 190)

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup pink lentils, ground reasonably fine (about like cornmeal)
  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons green peppercorns, finely chopped
Mix the lentils, turmeric, and salt together. Just before applying the breading, mix in the peppercorns.
My note: I've used dried green peppercorns as well, which has the advantage that you can store the breading for a long time.

Sauce (pg. 36)

INGREDIENTS
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped red peppers
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Pinch sugar
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup celery leaves, roughly chopped

NOTE: It is one of the crimes of many supermarkets that they trim the celery leaves off the stalk before they put it out in the cooler. We find celery leaf to be a fresh, lively herb and we use it often. Warm the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat and toss in the onion, garlic, and thyme. Mix to coat with the oil, then add the peppers. Season with a little salt, pepper, cayenne, and sugar (you start seasoning now because you will render out water quickly), then add more stock or water. Bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook gently until the peppers are very tender, about 10 minutes. Puree the pepper mixture and strain through a fine sieve. Return the puree to the stove and reduce until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (or watch the bubbles - when they start to make slow blurps, you're getting there). Swirl in the butter and bring to a froth with an immersion blender (or by whisking vigorously). Correct the seasoning with salt, cayenne, pepper, and sugar and keep the sauce warm over very low heat.

My note: Ideally, you'd want to be able to feel a little bit of heat, but be careful that it does not become overpowering (and even more so if you choose scallops rather than chicken).

Putting it all together

My notes: If you choose boneless chicken breast like I did, then you cover the round side in the breading (there is no need for additional moisture) and fry the chicken in plenty of olive oil until the breading has a nice golden brown color. Either set aside for finishing later in the oven or turn over and fry until done.
Plating it should be simple enough and can be done a lot more elegantly than I did above. If you want something on the side to provide a bit more substance to the dish, I suggest either small new potatoes, herbed couscous as I used or perhaps a slice of bread.

Final notes

So far, this is the first and only recipe I've used from the book, but I very much doubt that it will be the last. The taste combinations in this recipe are so very interesting and well described, that I'll be willing to try some of the other more exotic recipes next time I feel like experimenting in the kitchen.