Thursday, August 21, 2014

Spicy Almond-Crusted Chicken with Honey Butter Sauce

Warning: nuts contains nuts.

Beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer. So now that I have that out of my system, I think Stone Brewery is one of the most influential breweries out there. At least they are to me personally. Like most my age, college was cheap yellow fizzy. After a Coors Brewery tour, I drank Blue Moon when I could get my hands on it, but that was about it. The first year after college my buddy Trevor introduced me to Stone's Imperial Russian Stout. The flood gates were opened. My mind was blown. It looked like motor oil. It tasted nothing like Guinness, a beer I never loved and my only point of reference for stouts. Fast forward quite a few years and I am a loyal Stone customer. So when I had a chance to see Greg Koch (CEO & Co-Founder) speak, I was in like Flint. He was selling the book that today's recipe comes from The Craft of Stone Brewing Co. I am a little ashamed to admit even though this was a couple years ago, I have never made anything from it... until now!

Disclaimer: I never drink Stone's Imperial Russian Stout if it is less than six months old. Yes aging beer is a thing and yes it matters. This may sound weird to you non-beer nerds, but trust me. If you are going to drink it, age it first or buy last year's release.

Knowing people is not always a good thing.

Interestingly enough this recipe does use alcohol but not Stone beer. The recipe recommends pairing it with their Cali-Belgique IPA, which I did, but the alcohol used is a dry white wine. I love dry white wine shallot sauces, so I was all about this guy.

Picture is a bit blurry but by the end of the night so was I.

Beer, wine, shallots? Ok I am drooling, let's get to it.

Spicy Almond-Crusted Chicken
1 1/4 cups blanched slivered almonds, separated
1 cup panko
1 Serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large chicken breasts slice thicknesswise
lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
honey butter sauce (recipe to follow)

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Spread 1/4 cup of the almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 4 minutes, stir, and turn them over. Continue roasting until golden about 4-5 additional minutes. Reduce the oven to 350°F and set aside the almonds to cool.

Put the remaining 1 cup of almonds in a food processor, along with the panko, Serrano, crushed red pepper, flour, and salt. Pulse until the mixture is finely ground.

Coat the chicken breasts with the mixture and lightly sprinkle with lime juice.

Heat the oil in an ovenproof pan or skillet over high heat. Sear the chicken until browned and crispy: 1-2 minutes per side. Set the pan in the oven and bake until cooked through (15-20 minutes for me, but this is all about the girth of your meat). Serve immediately with honey butter sauce and topped with the roasted almonds.

Honey Butter Sauce - Be sure to read the commentary before attempting
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 small bay leaf
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup very cold unsalted butter, cubed

Combine the wine, vinegar, peppercorns, shallots, and bay leaf in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the mixture is simmering, adjust the heat to maintain a brisk simmer and cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the cream and honey and continue simmering until the volume is reduced by half, 3 to 5 minutes. (This portion of the sauce can be made up to 1 hour before serving. Simply return to simmer when you are ready to proceed with the recipe.)

Turn the heat down to low. Remove the pan from the heat and add a few cubes of butter, whisking constantly until the butter has been completely incorporated. Return the pan to the heat, and add several more cubes of butter, again whisking constantly until the butter completely incorporated. Continue to add the butter, a few cubes at a time, alternating with the pan on and off the heat and whisking with each addition, until all of the butter is incorporated (see comments).

Stain the sauce though a fine-mesh and serve hot.

Growing up in the Midwest, seafood was never my thing. In all fairness, my exposure as a kid was Red Lobster and McDonald's Filet-O-Fish. As an aside, the wifey has no excuse since she grew up kosher in Boston, but oddly she dislikes seafood even more than me. So while as an adult I have come to realize seafood can be quite enjoyable, I never make it at home. I mean literally never. So when I read a recipe that says tilapia, my mind reads it as chicken. Today's recipe is supposed to be tilapia. You make it how you want and I will do the same. :P

This is a pretty involved recipe, so read it through once or twice and leave plenty of time.

This was just the prep work folks. Get ready for a long, sweaty day in this kitchen with this one.

I used a pinot grigio I had lying around for my dry white wine.

As far as the beer pairing: thumbs down. Like a good little beer hipster I love IPAs. No wait, IPAs are so last year! Gawd... Anyway, I just do not think they pair with food well. The bitterness is too much. I like my IPAs as a stand along thing. Cali-Bel is a good one too.

I am an engineer by training. I think of things logically. I want nuts, I got to the nut section. I looked at the wasabi almonds, the caramel almonds, the salt & vinegar almonds, etc and got mad. There were not any blanched almond slivers. So I bought plain almonds thinking I would make due. Two hours later I go back to the store because I remembered they are in the baking section NOT the nut section. Do not be me.

Toasted nuts shown with untoasted for reference.
Also I hate my local grocery store!
I cracked my peppercorns lightly with a spoon. 

With the Pyrex and the spoon I feel like this belongs in a anti-drugs commercial.
Drugs are bad, m'kay? Don't do drugs, m'kay?

The wifey hates spicy. I love spicy. I also love the wifey, so I try to make her happy. Yet I still want spicy food. What is a guy to do? One thing I loved about this recipe was how easy it was to make in spicy and non-spicy batches. I ran the breading through the food processor without the red pepper and Serrano. Before breading the chicken, I split the breading into two batches and ran half though the food processor again, this time with spicy ingredients. I was being overly paranoid thinking this was going to be pretty spicy (spoiler: it is not) so I pan fried and baked separately.

Love is separated chicken.
So I obviously did not put my skillet in the oven. I just transferred the chicken to some Pyrex before baking.

BTW my browser is capitalizing Serrano, not me. I am just too lazy to change it. I am pretty sure it should not be. Also I am too lazy to look that up though.

This sauce has a tendency to separate. So keeping the heat on low and adding the butter slowly is key. The cookbook has a two paragraph disclaimer that basically boils down to: use very cold butter and occasionally remove the pan from the heat as the butter melts.

This is the "This portion of the sauce can be made..." break.

Butter! More butter!
I do not want to be able to see my toes by the time I am done with dinner!

ALL the butter! Muhahaha!

This is a tough one. I do not think I would make it again. The good: the breading was light and fluffy as panko tends to be. It had a wonderfully mild almond flavor (although the toasted bits were a bit much). The butter sauce had just the right amount of honey flavor and was the highlight of the dish. The bad: all combined it was just ok. It was a lot of effort and little reward. The spice level was very low on the spicy batch as previously noted, which made me a sad panda. Also this obviously lost something on the conversion to chicken. I think it needed more salt because chicken.

tldr version: it was good, but not worth the effort.

No comments:

Post a Comment