Saturday, February 23, 2008

Platinum Chef Challenge 6: Stuffed Cumin Chicken

The Platinum Chef Challenge (PCC) is back! I love participating in this blogging challenge with the ladies on thenest. For some reason, I can stare at my kitchen/cupboard for hours and not come up with a meal, but give me 5 random ingredients and my mind races! For me, the PCC is just a way to expand my horizons in the kitchen and 'flex my wings,' if you will. I'm not much for creating dishes from scratch, so I like to push myself to come up with new things. In past challenges, I've been able to experience new ingredients, as well.

For the sixth installment of PCC, the ingredients were as follows:
Butternut Squash

Cumin jumped out at me as a sign for some Middle Eastern cuisine. I did some digging for inspiration and technique, and decided to make Stuffed Cumin Chicken. I created a chicken breast with a honey spice glaze, stuffed with a barley, spinach and chickpea stuffing. I topped them off with a warm vanilla squash yogurt sauce and served along side honey cumin baby carrots.

To make the stuffing:


1/3 cup barley, rinsed
dash salt
1 1/2 cups chicken stock

Drizzle of olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4" thick ring of large white onion, diced.
2 oz fresh spinach

1/2 cup chickpeas
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon

1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin

~Bring the salt and chicken stock to a boil in a pot. Add barley and cook until tender and slightly chewy, about 45 min/
~Heat oil in a saute pan. Add garlic and onion, cook over medium heat for a few minutes until garlic is fragrant and onion begins to become translucent.
~Add spinach and cook until wilted down.
~Puree the chickpeas in a processor with the lemon juice.
~Combine all barley, spinach, and chickpeas together and add remaining spices.

For the glaze:
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
3 tbsp honey
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper

Combine all in a small dish

Preparing the chicken:
~Spray the bottom of a baking dish with nonstick spray.
~Split boneless/skinless chicken breast lengthwise to create a pocket in the middle. Add stuffing to pocket. (I ended up with probably 1/4 cup in each. I made 3 total and had about 1/2 cup stuffing leftover)
~Brush glaze on both sides of chicken
~Place in baking dish and cook in the oven at 375 degrees F until done, about 30 minutes. (I always check that the meat had reached a temp of 160 degrees F with an instant read thermometer).

For the yogurt sauce:
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 egg white (yes I know this is weird, sorry!)
1 tsp cornstarch
seeds scraped from 1/2 of a vanilla bean
1/4 cup boiled, mashed butternut squash (in retrospect it would have been better to puree this so the sauce didn't have that 'stringy' look).
dash cinnamon

~Combine the first four ingredients in a saucepan OFF THE HEAT, stir to make sure cornstarch is incorporated. While stirring constantly, place over medium heat.
~Bring yogurt to a boil while stirring constantly. This is to prevent curlding.

~When the yogurt has boiled successfully, you can relax the stirring. Reduce to a simmer, for 3 minutes.
~Stir in squash and cinnamon.
~If a thinner sauce is desired, add some warmed chicken stock to preference.

To serve with the chicken, I steamed some baby carrots and tossed them with a bit of honey and cumin. Plate chicken and serve with warm yogurt sauce.

I think this was my first time really cooking with cumin. Unfortunately, I don't think I really care for cumin... or yogurt sauce. It wasn't bad, and my husband seemed to enjoy it, but I guess it's hard for me to judge where it falls on the scale.

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