Thursday, March 6, 2008

Grilled Chicken with Pepita Cream over Pumpkin-Chipotle Polenta

We had a gnarly rainy day in Austin today. Not the best weather for trying to paint sample boards. Instead of watching the paint dry, I channeled my frustrations into figuring out a creative use for leftover cooked chicken breasts from last night. I ended up with a delicious and comforting meal of chicken with a pepita-sage cream sauce served over a chipotle spiced pumpkin polenta. Alongside I served a dish of Mexican black beans and a refreshing salad with mango-orange dressing. If you try any of these recipes, amend them in any way that suits your tastes...I just happened to have all this stuff in my fridge, and thus it found it's way into my pots. The results were really yummy, even if my photo just looks like a big blob. :-)

Remaining polenta and cream sauce remade at Debbie's for lunch the next day with her pecan-crusted salmon. A lovely plating by Debbie to make up for last night's photo! I had a hunch that this would be awesome with seafood and it so was...nom, nom, nom.

Pumpkin-Chipotle Polenta:

1-2 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
~1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
~1/2 tsp cumin
1 chipotle pepper, minced + a tsp. of adobo sauce
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup medium grind, or coarse polenta
1 cup canned unsweeted pumpkin puree
~2 Tbs butter
~1 tsp salt
~1/4 cup grated queso cotija
a couple good squeezes of agave nectar
a glurg or 2 of buttermilk

Pre-heat oven to 350.
In an oven safe pan with a lid, saute garlic and onion sprinkled with a little salt in olive oil for 4-5 minutes over medium heat. Add cumin, chipotle, and chicken broth and bring to a boil.
Slowly pour polenta into boiling broth, whisking constantly.
Put the lid on the pot and place in the oven for 40 minutes, whisking every 10 minutes to prevent lumps. At 20 minutes, add pumpkin puree.
At 40 minutes, remove from oven and whisk in butter, agave nectar, salt, cotija cheese, and buttermilk.

Pepita Cream:

I think I overdid the sage in my batch, but have changed the amount in the recipe. I think the problem was that I added more uncooked sage to the blender, so just stick with sauteing it with the pepitas.

~1/3 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
a dab of ghee, or butter
~1/4-1/2 tsp fresh sage, chiffonade
~1/3 cup 2% Greek yogurt
half and half, or milk to thin
salt to taste
save some pepitas out for garnishing

Toast pepitas in ghee, and about halfway, add sage cooking until fragrant.
Place mixture in blender, add yogurt, and half and half. Puree, then add salt to taste.

Mexican Black Beans:

1 Tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 tsp cumin
30 oz. or 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1- 14.5 oz can chicken broth
1/2 tsp cocoa (I was just playing around by adding this)
salt and pepper to taste
lime juice
cotija cheese for topping

Heat oil in heavy large suacepan over med.-high heat. Add garlic, jalapeno, and cumin and saute for 30 seconds. Add beans and broth (and cocoa if you feel like being a weirdo), bring to a simmer then cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Coarsely mash beans with a potato masher. Continue boiling until thick, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with lime juice, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve. I transfered some to individual baking dishes, sprinkled with cotija cheese and covered with foil. I warmed them in the oven when the polenta was baking.

Mango-Orange Dressing:

1 large mango
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 clove garlic
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp cumin

Place all ingredients in blender and puree. This is an oil-free dressing, but I added some olive oil while the blender was whirring. It's good with, or without though.

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