Thursday 20 June 2013

Pine Nut and Basil Seared ‘Chicken’ with Mushroom Sauce, Braised Kale and Roasted Chat Potatoes

From The Conscious Cook, Tal Ronnen, William Morrow, 2009.
I knew when I looked at this recipe that I would have to modify it. It was a vegan recipe, which didn’t worry me, but there were also ingredients listed that were specific to US conditions and were proprietary named. They were unavailable here in Australia.
I managed to find some vegetarian ‘chicken’ breasts so that was a good starting point. That was basically what persuaded me to try this.
Some chat potatoes were halved, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and black pepper and fresh thyme leaves. They went into a 200ªC oven for half an hour.
A handful of pine nuts were roasted then churned in a blender with some plain flour and some basil leaves. The blender was only given a couple of bursts, sufficient to break down the leaves and nuts but not break them down completely. The ‘chicken’ breasts were now seasoned and pressed into the flour mix on both sides. They were then fried in a little oil on both sides until crisp. They were now kept warm while the sauce was made.

Two shallots were thinly sliced and sautéed in some olive oil until softened. Mushrooms for the sauce were sliced thinly and added to the shallots for a few minutes more. About ¼ cup white wine was now added and cooked until it had well reduced. I then added ¼ cup cream and cooked it for a few minutes more. It was now taken off the heat and 4 tablespoons margarine beaten in one at a time. Salt and pepper was added to taste and a squeeze of lemon juice. The sauce was ready.
A few leaves of kale were torn into pieces and the stems removed. The torn leaves went into a frying pan for a minute or two until they wilted. A little water was added and they continued the cooking for a minute or two more. Seasoning was added and they were ready.

To serve, kale was placed in the centre of a plate. The ‘chicken’ breasts were leaned against the kale, the potatoes placed around and the mushroom sauce poured over.
This was tasty enough though the ‘chicken’ was really tough. I suspect this was because it had had to be kept warm while the sauce was being made and the kale cooked. In future I would make the sauce first then, while the kale was cooking, would quickly fry the breasts. I also did not like the way the breasts just had the coating pressed into them. This did not really work too well. I would prefer to give a flour coating, then egg and breadcrumbs which would make a crunchier—and possibly tastier—result.
Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

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