29 May 2008

Pollo alla Milanese Cuban style
I"m sure most of you are aware of this dish. It is very common. In fact, I bet some of you make this and don't even realize you are making it. Why? Because Pollo alla Milanese is basically breaded chicken. In this case it would be breaded boneless chicken breast. There is no science to this dish, no need to have a recipe book on hand, no need to have a degree in culinary arts. However, I'm going to give you a Cuban touch to this recipe that will give it a BAM! like Emeril Lagasse would say. Cuban's call this dish pollo empanizado which obviously means breaded chicken. How could we make this very basic simple dish into a Cuban style gem? Well we do what Cubans do best, we marinade!!!!! That is the secret. Cubans will marinade just about everything and the secret marinade is called MOJITO. Yes, like the drink, but the marinade and the drink differ greatly.

Mojito the marinade consists of garlic, onions, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and bitter oranges. That is the secret ingredient that makes Cuban style mojito so special. It is the bitter oranges. Bitter oranges are very difficult to get and if you try this with regular oranges, it's not going to taste the same. So, don' try it.

But since I'm all about saving time and doing things the easy way I buy the mojito already made. My recommendations would be either the Goya or the mojo from La Lechonera. Either one is good. Make sure you buy the bottle that says MOJO on it. Goya sells another marinade made from bitter oranges, but it's NOT mojito. (Mojo and mojito are the same thing) So please don't make the mistake of buying that one. So here is how I make Pollo alla Milanese Cuban style.

4 pieces of boneless chicken breasts
1 cup Mojito (Mojo)
1 1/2 cups italian style bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
2 eggs
salt and pepper for taste
1 lemon

Wash and pat dry the chicken breasts. You want the chicken pieces to be on the thin side so mash them down. Put them in bowl and pour the mojito over them. Flip them around in the bowl making sure that the mojito has coated all the pieces back and front. Let them sit in the marinade for at least 4 hours. I've even kept them in overnight.

After they've sat for a while, take them out and pat dry. Now you can start up the oil in a frying pan. I use extra light virgin olive oil for frying but you can use vegetable oil if you like. Combine parmesan cheese and bread crumbs on one plate. Put the eggs in another plate. Mix them up with a fork. Add the parsley, salt and pepper. Now arrange the plates in this order; chicken breasts first, egg mixture second and bread crumbs third.

Now dip chicken in egg mixture and coat both sides. Then dip the chicken onto the bread crumb plate. Make sure you get a really nice coat of bread crumbs. Then place in the oil and fry them up! When the oil is really hot, they will cook fast. Remember to flip them so you get a nice golden brown top. When the chicken is done, place them on a plate with a paper towel so it can soak up the extra oil.

Place the chicken on your serving dish. Cut up the lemon in 4 pieces and place one piece next to each of the 4 pieces of chicken. I like to serve this dish with a green salad. Nice and simple.

Well that's it. You will see how much more flavorful the chicken is when you bite into it. Here's another tip for a topping. Buy some Chimichurri sauce. Also available in spanish markets. Instead of the lemon use this sauce.

Don't add cheese to the bread crumbs and use egg whites instead of the whole egg. Also, you can bake the chicken in the oven. When they are just about done, flip on the broiler for a few minutes so you can get a nice brown topping.

27 May 2008

Chicken for 8 - Fit for Queens Coronation
(This recipe came from Mark Pierre Schmidtke

of Morocco)
2.3kg (5lb) chicken
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small, finely chopped onion
1 tbsp curry paste
1 tbsp tomato puree
100ml red wine
1 bay leaf
1/2 lemon juice
4 finely chopped apricot halves
300ml (1/2 pint) Mayonnaise
100ml (4 fl oz) whipping cream
Salt and pepper
Watercress to garnish

1. Skin the chicken and cut into small pieces and grill it until cooked.
2. In a small saucepan, heat the oil, add the onion and cook for about three minutes, until softened.
3. Add the curry paste, tomato puree, wine, bay leaf and lemon juice.
4. Simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes until well reduced.
5. Strain and leave to cool.
6. Puree the chopped apricot halves in a blender or food processor or through a sieve.
7. Beat the cooled sauce into the mayonnaise with the apricot puree.
8. Whip the cream to stiff peaks and fold into the mixture.
9. Season, adding a little extra lemon juice if necessary.
10. Fold in the chicken pieces, garnish with watercress and serve.