Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chicken with Pistachio and Sumac Breadcrumbs

This chicken recipe is from Turquoise: A Chef's Travels in Turkey by Greg and Lucy Malouf. This is a beautiful book, part cookbook and part photographic journey through Turkey.  I use it frequently, and everything from it has been amazing.  That said, I've gotten hooked on a group of core recipes and I really need to explore the book more. I had no idea that the Maloufs wrote similar books about other countries.  There's Saraban: A Chef's Journey Through Persia, and Saha: A Chef's Journey Through Lebanon and Syria.  I've been interested in Middle Eastern food for a while.  It started with the Mediterranean ingredients in Lebanese food and spread from there.  I didn't know anything about the differences between Lebanese, Persian, Egyptian, Moroccan, and Turkish flavors until I started buying cookbooks.  I love the idea of breaded chicken, and this Turkish recipe caught my eye because although it starts in a frying pan, it's finished in the oven, which is healthier than frying it the whole time.  The salad dressing is something I made up to complement the chicken and to use my lemon and harissa mustard. 

This chicken was moist, but the breading stayed crunchy! I adapted the breadcrumb mixture a little.  I used panko instead of breadcrumbs and even though I made a 1/2 recipe to serve 2, I used the full amount of lemon and sumac. I added about one handful of extra pistachios as well.  When seasoning the flour, I added sumac as well as salt and pepper.  I completely forgot to serve it with lemon wedges, I think that they would have made the dish even better. 

Chicken with Pistachio and Sumac Breadcrumbs with Salad
Adapted from Turquoise
Serves 2. 
2 chicken breasts
1 egg
Flour for dredging
1/8 cup olive oil 
1 lemon cut into wedges

1 oz shelled unsalted pistachios (I used an extra handful), coarsely chopped
3 oz panko  
1 Tbsp ground sumac 
Zest of one lemon
1/8 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup grated grana padano cheese (or Parmesan)

1) Preheat oven to 350.  Pound the chicken until it is 1/2 inch thick. 
2) Put the pistachio, sumac, zest, and panko in a food processor.  Pulse a few times to mix well, but don't pulverize the nuts.  Then add the sesame seeds and cheese and process until it's mixed well. 
3) Set up a chicken breading station.  Put some flour on a plate and season it with salt, pepper, and sumac.  Beat the egg in a dish that is large enough to dip the chicken in.  Put the breadcrumbs on a plate. 
4) For each chicken breast: dredge in flour and shake off excess.  Then dip in egg wash.  Lastly, press it on each side into the plate containing the breadcrumbs.  I used my hands to sprinkle more crumbs over the chicken and press them in for maximum breading.  
5) Heat the olive oil in a frying pan that is large enough to hold both chicken breasts. Brown the chicken lightly on each side.  The breading should be a golden brown.  No more than 2-3 minutes per side.
6) Place the chicken in a foil lined pan and bake for 8-10 minutes.   

Salad with Sumac and Dijon Dressing
The salad dressing is something I made up to complement the chicken.  Making my own salad dressing was the gateway drug for my interest in cooking.  Home made salad dressing is much healthier than the preservative packed stuff I used to buy in the store.  This is the first time I've made a dressing without vinegar!  When I was in France last Fall, I went to the Maille store in Paris.  In the US, I can get Maille Dijon mustard or grainy Dijon mustard.  I had no idea how many types of mustard they sold!  It's a shame these aren't listed on their US website.  I came home with Champagne and mushroom, lemon harissa, and basil mustards.  The lemon harissa mustard is the centerpiece of this dressing.  But, I think it could be approximated by mixing some smooth Dijon mustard with a splash of lemon juice and about 1/8 tsp harissa.  This dressing is tangy and a little bit spicy due to the harissa.  This recipe doesn't make very much, but it's so flavorful that the salad doesn't need a lot of it to taste good. 

Mix the following very well together in a bowl:
The juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 shallot,  finely minced
1 Tbsp lemon harissa Dijon mustard
1 tsp ground sumac
1/2 tsp sesame seeds
Salt and pepper

When you're ready to toss the salad, whisk in about 1 Tbsp of olive oil, or add more until the dressing is the consistency you want. 


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