Thanks to everyone who sent me Google’s cached version of my post . . . unfortunately that was what I had started with two hours prior, sans recipe, not deleted altogether, but without all the hard work of the night. I’ve been learning to click save more frequently for ten years now and, apparently, will never learn. So anyway, here’s my revised all-the-better rendition of Coffee Nut Chicken.
Remember that time I posted that thing about how to score herbs & spices on the cheap? And then when I said I had a good recipe to use them all? This is that recipe, guys! Despite the word “chicken” in the title, this is easily modified to vegetarian or vegan tastes. Easily.
The original recipe comes from Chef Paul Prudhomme’s out-of-print cookbook classic Fiery Foods That I Love, and the recipe is also available on Chef Paul’s website. I changed a few things to obviate the need for Chef Paul’s magical seasonings blends because any food with “magic” in the title is suspect to me.
Not sure if this has come up yet, but Dano is my boyfriend. I hate the phrase “my boyfriend,” because every time I use it I feel like staking out some man-meat territory. To me, it sounds like “mah buh-FRAAAND.” So now that we’re real close friends, you’ll just have to keep track of his name like all my other pals. Internet: Dano. Dano: Internet.
Anyway, I bring this up because Coffee Nut Chicken was the very first meal he ever made for me! *Awwww!* Turns out Dano can cook too, when I let him!
The puree is . . . um . . . not that pretty. But remember how there were all those delicious toasted nuts and seeds in there when someone inevitably describes it in less-than-appetizing terms.
As promised, we begin with a herbs and spices do come into play. Specifically, an 8-spice blend if you don’t count salt. There are so many ingredients involved that this recipe presents some problems with some easy solutions. On the one hand you probably are missing at least *one* of the ingredients on the list. On the other, because there are so many flavours in play, your improvised substitution won’t ruin dinner.
It doesn’t matter what kind of chicken you use. Bone-in, whole chicken, skinned, some chicken thighs, breasts . . . you know, whatever. The original calls for a whole chicken, but I tend toward chicken thighs, so that’s what’s pictured here.
And then serve. Please remember all the hard work that went into this dish, because without that knowledge, this is probably the last thing you’d think you’d want to put in your mouth. Remember, it’s nutty and warm and savoury with an interesting heat that comes on just as you think you’re in the clear with spiciness. And it’s positively divine on egg noodles.
Vegetarian? Oh that’s cool, it’s easy to fix. Make the sauce with a veggie stock, and instead of chicken, simmer some whole portobello mushrooms, or other sliced mushrooms in the sauce (no need to sear!). Serve over egg noodles, or for vegan types, rice. I had egg noodles on hand, so unfortunately that’s the picture you get, but I hear vegans have excellent imaginations.
Coffee Nut Chicken
modified from a recipe by Paul Prudhomme
A very important note:
Please do not try to substitute ground coffee for instant, which is not at all the same thing. Just put aside your foodie-snobbery, suck it up, and accept that sometimes freeze-dried is what’s called for. Dano made this mistake exactly once. We had pizza that night. Other than that, substitutions work well here.
2 tbsp lightly packed brown sugar
2 tsp dried ancho chili powder
2 tsp chipotle chili powder
(if you have no interest in fancy chili powders, substitute 1 tbsp + 1 tsp total chili powders for the
ancho and chipotle)
2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp garlic powder
1.5 tsp onion powder
1.5 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp ground cloves
The Coffee and Nuts (and what they are pureed with)
1/2 c sunflower seeds
2 c chopped pecans
2 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 cup chicken stock or broth
2 tbsp lightly packed brown sugar
3 tbsp instant coffee
1 tsp ground chicory (hard to find at regular grocery stores and therefore optional)
6 chicken thighs (or 3 chicken breasts halved, we’re shooting for about 1.5 lbs of meat)
2 tbsp canola, sunflower or other high-heat oil (olive oil will burn)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chicken stock or broth
8 oz egg noodles
Mix the seasoning spices by giving them a little pinchy-pinch. Rub about 2 tbsp of the seasoning into chicken. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet to medium. Toast the sunflower seeds then the chopped pecans 5-6 minutes each, shaking the pan as they toast. Toast the poppy and sesame seeds together for 2 minutes in the same manner.
Puree the sunflower seeds, pecans, poppy and sesame seeds with 1 c chicken stock, 2 tbsp brown sugar, instant coffee and chicory in a food processor about 1 minute.
Heat the oil in the nut-skillet on high until it moves easily. Sear each side of the chicken 2 minutes, then set aside; lower heat to medium. Add 1 tbsp of the spice mixture to the pan with the chopped onion and sautee 5 minutes or until cooked. Stir in 1 cup chicken stock or broth, scraping the bottom of the pan to release the brown bits. Bring to a boil, add chicken, nut puree and spice mix, then reduce to low and simmer for another 25 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160o. If you want to make the chicken cook more quickly (but with the risk of having an extra-liquidy meal), cover and cook til the internal temperature is reached.
Now’s a good time to boil water and cook the egg noodles.
By request: finally, a vegetarian option!
I mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating. Word-for-word, in fact, just to conserve my precious creativity: Make the sauce with a veggie stock, and instead of chicken, simmer 6 whole portobello mushrooms, or other 24 oz sliced mushrooms in the sauce (no need to sear!). Serve over egg noodles, or for vegan types, rice.
Nutrition Summary (one of six servings, using 1.5 lb chicken breast, No Yolks egg noodles): 555 calories, 6g fiber, 22g fat (but lots of the good kind, hehe); 12 weight watchers points
(using 6 portobello caps, No Yolks egg noodles): 475 calories, 8g fiber, 21g fat; 10 ww points
Hey guys, real quick: Omnomicon now has a Facebook page and is also twittering about on Twitter. I’m not quite sure why, but I thought being better socially-networked might be to the benefit of the site. Okay, back to our regularly scheduled recipes.
The first time I had Chicken Cordon Bleu, I was somewhere around 10 years old and my Memere had taken me out for my birthday. I probably ordered mozzarella sticks as an appetizer, because that was my thing, when extremely Quebecois-accented Memere recommended Chicken Bleu, I think mostly as an educational ploy to teach me more French. “O, da Chicken Cordon Bleu! Do you know what dat means? Blue Ribbon Chicken! Huh?! Huh?! Ha!”
Chicken Cordon Bleu doesn’t seem to have a whole lot in the way of history, but according to the nominal amount of research I did on the subject, what we call Chicken Bleu is wholly American and apparently started getting mentioned in newspapers as an airline food around 1960.
Whatever, it’s really frickin good.
Chicken Bleu is simple, cheap, easy and amazingly satisfying without sitting in your stomach like a lump of lead for the following several hours. After a year of being extremely food-conscious, I was surprised to find that I still absolutely love this dish. I wouldn’t call it subtly-flavoured, but it does taste far more sophisticated than the concept would sound.
The formula is simple: swiss, ham, chicken, treat it kind of like a turducken. Most recipes call for breast, but I thought the boneless skinless thigh meat would be a bit more flavourful and tender. You are, as always, free to use your discretion on the matter.
I just used the cheap deli ham and Swiss because um, it works just fine and there’s no reason to spend a lot of money on fancy ham, if such a thing even exists. That said, I do prefer better deli supplies when I’m eating it cold.
I used toothpicks like safety pins to keep this thing together and “mend” any holes I made in the meat while I was pounding it out. But I have to point out that you really don’t want to use the coloured ones you see here because they will stain your meat, which in addition to being kind of a culinary faux pas is just grossly unappetizing.
Next up: flour, egg wash, breadcrumbs.
Twenty-five minutes is the *perfect* amount of time to bake this—the chicken is cooked but tender and the cheese is melty without being scorching. Also, because of the toothpicks, these come out looking like you fried alive something vicious.
Chicken Cordon Bleu
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs or 1/2 breasts (chicken breasts are HUGE these days!)
4 slices deli ham (or prosciutto or capicola)
4 slices deli Swiss cheese (or provolone or mozzarella)
1/4 c water
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c seasoned bread crumbs
Several plain toothpicks
If your chicken breast is a little thick, you’ll want to butterfly it and tenderize with a mallet. You can try to do the same if you’re going the chicken thigh route, but it’s not likely to help you very much, so you might as well save yourself the frustration.
Cut the Swiss cheese into eight rectangles and stack. Slice the ham in half lengthwise, stack both pieces, then roll around the stack of cheese. Now create a little “meat purse” out of your chicken around the ham and cheese, and tack it up with toothpicks. Remember, no colours here unless you want polka dot chickens! The chicken will be cooked leaky-side up so that the cheese has less of an opportunity of gushing out of your creation all over the pan.
Set up three bowls for breading the chicken. The first holds flour for dusting the chicken balls; the second will have a beaten egg and 1/4 c water whisked together for an egg wash. The last will have some seasoned bread crumbs. Dip the chickens in the flour, the egg wash, then the bread crumbs. Place, toothpick side up, on lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake 25 minutes exactly in a 350o oven. Serve with rice pilaf.
Nutrition Summary: 260 calories, 0g fiber, 13.5g fat; 5.5 Weight Watchers Points
I thought this might be a good opportunity to try out making rice pilaf from scratch. I really like the stuff from the box, and it’s what most restaurants serve for rice pilaf too. Theirs tastes so much “better,” though, because they use twice the butter called for on the box, and while that sounds like complete conspiracy theory conjecture, I did learn it at the restaurant where I waitressed that one time, and have noticed it everywhere I’ve eaten pilaf since.
Turns out that making your own pilaf is pretty easy (it’s mostly just getting the ratio of rice to orzo correct), but way more time consuming and you can just add whatever seasonings you would put in your own version to the box stuff. I’ve included the recipe as a bonus for those interested.
2.5 c water
1 c long grain rice (brown or white, your choice)
1 tbsp chicken base (from what I can tell this is pretty much the only flavouring in boxed pilaf)
1 tbsp butter
saffron (pictured, or whatever other spices you want in your pilaf)
1/4 c orzo
Bring the water to a boil in a deep pan. Doing it this way instead of in a pot makes your pilaf less likely to turn out mushy. Once boiling, add chicken base, butter and seasonings, and stir until fully dissolved. Add the rice, give a stir, then put a lid on the pan. Check the rice for doneness at 20 minutes, 30 minutes and 35 minutes, but it should take about 40-45 minutes overall.
Once you’ve got the rice going, make the 1/4 c orzo according to the box instructions.
Once the rice is tender and fluffy and done, stir in the orzo. Enjoy!
Nutrition Summary: 225 calories, 1g fiber, 8g fat; 4.5 Weight Watchers Points
I am pleased to announce Omnomicon’s very first giveaway! And not bad for a first, if I say so myself.
It all started with a dear reader, noinamg, sending me the following email.
i would like to pose you a challenge if i may
i would like something to do with my Route 11 Mama Zuma’s Habanero (the red bag ones)
they are so spicy that even one chip is like hell in your mouth. since i cannot actually eat these, do you have a suggestion for a dish to use them in somehow?
Well, man, I do believe I can oblige, courtesy of the fine folks at Route 11.
This chick is badass. Wickedly badass. Also, a total babe.
I guess the word they’re going for here is really “hot,” and though hot chicks rarely have anything to do with habaneros, they certainly can’t hurt sales, right? These are like really good bbq chips, except particularly tongue-burning. They’re almost diet friendly in that you have to take a little bit of break between chips.
Really hot potato chips with an actual flavour to boot. It’s a good thing.
So here’s the giveaway: I will be sending out two bags of Mama Zuma’s Habanero Chips to two randomly-chosen readers. Would you like to win some? Leave a comment before 6pm EST Friday, March 6th describing what you would do with your Mama Zuma’s. (American readers only–apologies to my foreign friends, but I’m sending these out on my own dollar and funds are low).
Will you be enjoying them crunched into your tuna fish sammich? I can’t be the only one who does that. Perhaps slipping some to your Indian friend who keeps bragging about how white people don’t know what truly spicy food is. Or maybe even giving my recipe below a polite little shot. At the very least, it has a topical and interesting title.
Noinmang, you’re on. We’re making Mama Zuma’s Red Hot Gams.
First de-skin, de-fat, rinse and pat dry some chicken thighs to give yourself a nice fresh non-slimy surface. As I happen to be in possession of a veritable plethora of kitchen towels, I reserve one specifically for these kinds of things.
Next we’re going to flour, butter, then chippy the thighs and in that order. It helps conserve resources by using bowls that just barely fit a single thigh, particularly the chips. I found that one 2 oz bag of Mama Zuma’s crumbled up to *just* enough for four thighs.
Next is a dunk in butter to make the chips stick, and then the crumbled chips.
Now we bake for a bit. In the meantime, let’s prepare a little something in case the chicken’s still too much. It’s a pretty simple yogurt/cucumber/parsley concoction that might also work well as a lighter alternative to blue cheese dressing for your buffalo wings. Essentially, the only prep here is in a food processor.
And ohhhhh man. What a meal this made.
Mama Zuma’s Red Hot Gams
4 chicken thighs (bone in our out, your choice)
2 oz Mama Zuma’s Revenge Habanero Potato Chips (one bag) [in a real pinch you can use your favourite brand of hot potato chips, or even plain ones if you’re not into the spicy thing]
3 tbsp butter, melted (no worries, you won’t be using all of it)
1/4 c flour
Preheat oven to 375o.
Remove the skin and trim the fat from the chicken thighs, unless they came skinned and boneless. Now rinse the thighs and pat dry.
Crumble the Mama Zuma’s in the bag until a rough but not fine consistency.
For “breading” the chicken, using the smallest bowls you have that will fit the thighs is the best way to economize your ingredients. First flour the chicken on both sides, dip quickly in butter and let drip dry a few moments before grinding the chicken into the chip crumbles. Really grind it in there, and on both sides; you want the chips to be all pokey into the surface, as they’ll stay better that way.
Place chicken on a cookie sheet and pat in any remaining chip crumbs, since they’re already contaminated and preciously delicious.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165. Serve with . . .
Aleta’s Mama Zuma Antidote: Cucumber Chill-Out Sauce
1/2 c yogurt
about 2 tbsp loosely packed parsley leaves
1″ of cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt
Put all that stuff up there into a food processor and process for a minute or so, until the cucumber is ground. Add an extra 1″ of cucumber, dice, to the finished sauce, if desired.
Don’t forget to leave your comment if’n you’d like to give Mama Zuma’s a try! Contest closes Friday at 6pm EST.