Sunday, January 25, 2009

Oatmeal Crusted Chicken with Cauliflower Pumpkin Puree and Hericot Vert

Andrea Immer's book, Everyday Dining with Wine, is destined to become one of my favorites. Wine + Food is a no brainer for me, but Andrea and I also share a bizarre passion for crusting chicken cutlets in new and interesting ways.

Admittedly, I didn't try the wine pairing which I know is the whole point of the book, but we were getting up at the crack of dawn to fly to LA and I was trying to be good. Of course I fiddled a little with the recipe- adding toasted walnuts to the oatmeal crust. I mean, she said the whole point was to play off the subtle spices and textures of an oatmeal cookie, so why not?

It should also be mentioned that this dish needs quite a bit of salt to bring out the nuttiness and sweetness of the oatmeal crust. I know this to be true for cooking and baking in general, but it still freaks me out that a pinch of salt here or there in recipes makes the difference between 'eh' and 'holy #$(%*(!!!'

Oatmeal-Crusted Chicken with Gewurztraminer Pan Sauce
Recipe adapted from Every Day Dining with Wine and adjusted to serve 2.

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
teeniest pinch ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt + extra for seasoning raw chicken
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper + extra for seasoning raw chicken
1/4 cup toasted walnuts

1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3/4 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon butter + 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup Gewurztraminer (or any white wine - I used Vermouth)

Combine the oats, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and walnuts in a food processor and grind to a medium powder. I don't like it to be too fine, and prefer to see a chunk here or there of a walnut or oat. Remove to a shallow bowl or pie plate.

Whisk the egg and water together in another shallow bowl, and the flour in yet another. (To save on washing, I cover my flour bowl in plastic wrap, then just discard.)

Trim any fat or tendons from the chicken. One at a time, place a chicken breast in a large ziploc or in between two sheets of plastic wrap and gently pound with a flat meat pounder to an even 1/2 inch thickness.

Preheat oven to 325.

Cover a small cookie sheet in two layers of aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray. This will be used to set your chicken breasts on once you've breaded them, then the second clean layer will hold them to bake off in the oven.

Meanwhile, set up your breading station - putting the bowls in order of flour, egg wash, oatmeal crust, and finally your cookie sheet. Season your chicken cutlets with salt and pepper on both sides. Then, one at a time, dredge your chicken breast through the flour, getting both sides, then the egg wash, then the oatmeal crust being sure to press both sides in to get a good coat. Let your chicken sit on your cookie sheet while you get your pan ready.

Heat the butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. When the butter begins to foam, add the chicken, being sure to give each piece some room. Cook about 3-4 minutes per side, just until golden brown. Carefully transfer to your cookie tray (having discarded the top layer of foil) and bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add your wine to the still hot pan and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan (use a wooden spoon here.) Cooking until the wine has reduced by half - about two minutes. Add the remaining teaspoon of butter, stirring in well. Season lightly with salt and pepper, pour over the chicken and serve immediately.

Quick note - I actually found that my pan I cooked the chicken in had too many burned bits to make the reduction in. So I cleaned it, then sauteed some green beans in olive oil and butter, removed them with a slotted spoon, and added my wine to reduce before stirring in the final 2 teaspoons butter. It was delicious!

Cauliflower Pumpkin Puree
• This was something I made up when I was pottering around my kitchen and goes with this chicken like peas and carrots.

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into small florets and tough stems removed
1 box (32 oz) low sodium chicken or vegetable stock plus 1 cup water
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
small pinch nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
good amount fresh cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons half and half
2 tablespoons honey
pinch cayenne pepper

Bring the chicken stock and water to boil in a large lidded pot. Add the cauliflower, lower the heat to low, and put the lid on. Continue simmering the florets until they are fork tender - about 20 minutes. Allow to cool for ten minutes, then either strain the cauliflower, reserving the stock, or ladle out the majority of the stock leaving the florets in the same pot. You just want about 1/4 leftover stock with the cauliflower to puree it easily.

Stir in the pumpkin, spices, salt and pepper. Use a hand blender (or add all the contents to a food processor) and blend until pureed to the consistency you desire. You may want or need to add more of the reserved stock if it becomes too thick. Finally, either stir or blend in the 2 tablespoons of half & half. Taste for salt, adding any more if necessary to highlight all the lovely flavors. Serve warm.


tamilyn said...

Ooo, just give the bottle of Gewurtraminer to me along with a crusty loaf of bread and some butter and I'll be a happy girl

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

I love it! You and I are kindred spirits!

Sophie said...

Oatmeal crust-now that sounds tasty! I know what you mean about the salt, it makes such a difference! I especially like using sea salt :).