Sunday, April 8, 2007

Easter Dinner

Most people, I guess, would have had ham and spring vegetables and deviled eggs... but not us! Dave picked another recipe (for me to make) from the Dona Tomas cookbook... so we had Mexican for Easter! Yay!

This is not a weeknight dinner - unless you're one of those people that gets in to work at 7 and out at 3 or something... I think I started getting dinner together at 3? Mind you, I made cupcakes in the middle, I put off cooking the chicken for a couple of hours... but the fact is, I got started early. But boy, was it worth it.

Ah, and for those of you that want to sub out brown rice for the white - don't. I tried that the first time I made it, and seriously, the rice took hours. HOURS! Just suck it up and have white rice.

Pollo Con Mole Agridulce (Chicken Breast with Guajillo Sauce, Spices, Orange and Lime)
From Dona Tomas: Discovering Authentic Mexican Cooking, by Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky

5 guajillo chiles
1 cup water
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
1 ½ white onions, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic
¼ fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cubed
¼ teaspoon ground canela (Mexican cinnamon)
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
About 2 tablespoons kosher salt
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 ½ cups chicken broth
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, for garnish

Place a dry skillet over medium heat. Add the chiles and toast for 2 to 3 minutes, pressing them into the pan and turning occasionally with tongs to prevent burning, until the skins are lightly brown and the chiles begin to puff up. While the chiles are still hot, remove the stems but don’t discard all the seeds since you’ll want some for the heat. Submerge in a bowl of hot water for 20 to 30 minutes to rehydrate. Drain the chiles and combine with the water in a blender. Puree on high speed to make a paste.

Place a large skillet or sauté pan over high heat and add the 2 cups oil; you want a good depth so that the vegetables and pineapple will be submerged during frying. When the oil is hot, add the onion and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until browned around the edges and toward the center. Add the garlic cloves when the onion is about half-cooked and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until browned. Remove the onion and garlic with a skimmer or a slotted spoon and transfer to a colander or China cap to drain. Add a little more oil if necessary and carefully add the pineapple. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown. A spatter screen can be quite helpful since the juicy pineapple tends to spatter. Remove from the oil with a skimmer and add to the colander to drain. Wipe most of the oil out of the pan.

Place the onion, garlic and pineapple in a blender and puree on high speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until a fine consistency is achieved. Return the puree to the pan and place over medium heat. Gently whisk in the chile puree, canela, allspice, and cloves, salt, orange juice, lime juice, and about ¾ cup of the broth. Decrease the heat to low and gently simmer for about 1 hour, until the flavors begin to marry. Adjust the seasoning with the spices and salt as necessary.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Place a large sauté pan over high heat and add the 2 tablespoons oil and the butter. When hot, add the chicken and sauté for5 to 7 minutes, until the first side is browned. Place the pan of chicken into the oven for about 10 minutes, until tender and cooked through. (The second side of the chicken will brown in the oven.)

Remove the chicken from the pan and arrange on individual plates or a serving platter. Place the pan back over high heat and add the remaining ¾ cup of broth. Deglaze the pan, scraping up and browned bits with a wooden spoon, then simmer and reduce for 5 to 6 minutes. Add to the simmering sauce and ladle over the chicken. Serve and once, garnishing each plate with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Serve with:

Arroz Con Chile Poblano (Poblano Rice)
From Dona Tomas: Discovering Authentic Mexican Cooking, by Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky

Poblano Marinade
1 cup tomatillos (about 6 ounces)
1 poblano chile, toasted, peeled, stemmed, and seeded
¼ bunch cilantro
Kosher salt

3 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup white onion, cut into ¼-inch dice (about ½ onion)
1 ½ cups medium- or long-grain white rice
2 tablespoons kosher salt

Soak the tomatillos in cold water for a few minutes, then peel off and discard the husks. Place the tomatillos, chile, cilantro, and a pinch of salt in a blender and puree until smooth. Add enough cold water to bring to three cups of liquid and quickly blend together.

Place a saucepan over high heat and add the oil. Add the onion, decrease the heat to medium, and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until transparent. Add the rice and continue to sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until toasted to a light coffee color; this will enhance the flavor and keep the rice from clumping.

Add the marinade and salt and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil then decrease the heat to medium. Cover and gently simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Fluff the rice with a fork and adjust the salt just before serving.

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