Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Food: Chicken Pepian

The snow melted here last week but alas it's coming down from the sky again. It's not even February and I'm already itching for warmer weather to spend time outside in the sun and in my flowerbeds. a time where I'm already starting to think of spring, what could be better than a warm dish with nutty, spicy and citrusy flavors? I like to think of this one as a fusion between winter and summer...warmth and heat to keep you toasty and bright clean flavors to remind you better weather is on its way (hopefully sooner than later!).

When I first saw this recipe, I was intrigued. I don't think I've ever thought of making a sauce out of raw pumpkin seeds and tomatillos (And you wouldn't believe how difficult it was to find raw seeds at my local grocery store - thank goodness for Whole Foods and Trader Joe's). I had been eyeing this recipe for some time now but unfortunately hadn't made a good enough effort to find the main ingredient. Although I admit it isn't super pretty on the plate (see the big green pile below), I'm sure the plating could be improved...especially if I had followed the instructions adding a lime wedge and a sprig of cilantro on the side. I promise the flavor more than makes up for the appearance.

Chicken Pepian
Modified from a recipe by:
Ellie Krieger

  • 4-5 fresh tomatillos
  • 1 large poblano pepper, seeded and cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 t dried jalapeno pepper flakes (can substitute red pepper) - adjust based on how much heat you'd like in the dish
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
  • Lime wedges
  • Preheat the broiler and remove "paper" layer tomatillos then rinse them in warm water to remove some of their natural stickiness. Pat dry, then cut into quarters. Toss tomatillos and poblano with 2 teaspoons of the oil, place on a baking sheet and broil until charred, about 10 minutes.
  • Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add pumpkin seeds, pepper, and cumin and toast until pumpkin seeds are fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  • In same saute pan, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  • Place tomatillos, poblano, onions and garlic, cilantro, chicken broth, toasted seeds and spices and salt in a blender and blend on high until totally smooth, about 30 seconds.
  • Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in skillet and cook the chicken until browned on both sides and nearly cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.
  • Add pepian sauce to skillet, covering chicken pieces. Bring to a simmer and cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Serve chicken topped with sauce and garnished with cilantro and lime wedges

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