Monday, April 10, 2006

Think Warm - Caribbean Guava-Stuffed Chicken

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Even though it's spring, it's definitely nowhere near beach weather unfortunately. So I thought I'd "think warm" and make a Caribbean-influenced dinner that would transport me to warm azure waters, sandy beaches and a vacation state of mind. If summer isn't coming fast enough for you either, you might want to try this dish - and a little daydreaming. It may seem ambitious but it's actually very easy. You just need to make sure you allot time for the marinating. Enjoy!

The Menu:
Spinach Salad (or Mixed Greens) with Orange-Fennel Vinaigrette
Guava-Stuffed Chicken with Caramelized Mango

Spinach Salad (or Mixed Greens) with Orange-Fennel Vinaigrette

This recipe is adapted from the April 2006 issue of Bon Appétit
The original recipe serves 8 but I've modified it for 4.
There's nothing like making your own fresh dressing. Highly recommend giving this a try. It's easy. Just a lot of ingredients.

1/4 cup fresh blood-orange juice or fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp (packed) grated orange peel
1 tsp honey
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh fennel bulb (They recommend finely chopping it. I prefer large slices or chunks so you can really taste the fennel.)
2 tbsp chopped fennel fronds
3 blood oranges or seedless oranges (I used Mandarin orange slices from a can instead. Really tasty.)
8 - 12 cups (depending on how many you are feeding) chopped spinach (or you can use any kind of mixed greens)
2/3 cup walnuts, chopped

How to:
1. Whisk orange juice, shallots, thyme, orange peel and honey in a medium bowl to blend.
2. Gradually whisk in olive oil, then mix in the chopped fennel bulb and fronds.
3. Season dressing with salt and pepper to taste. (Can be made one day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewhisk before using.)
4. Combine spinach (or greens) with toasted walnuts and the Mandarin slices (if you use oranges, you need to remove each segment from the skin - way too much work if you ask me).
5. Toss salad with enough dressing to coat evenly.
6. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Guava-Stuffed Chicken with Caramelized Mango

This recipe is adapted from the May 2006 issue of Bon Appétit which is all about the Caribbean and its food. Great issue. Highly recommend picking up a copy.
Serves 4


3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
6 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
4 large skinless boneless chicken breasts
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons guava paste (available in the international aisle of the supermarket which is where I found it, or at Latin specialty stores.)
2 1/2 ounces fresh spinach leaves, chopped (2 cups lightly packed)
2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
3 tbsp butter
1 large mango, halved, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

How to:

Prepping the chicken:
1. Whisk first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken breasts; turn to coast. Cover chicken breasts and chill 1 - 2 hours (3 - 4 if you have the time), turning occasionally.
2. Blend the cream cheese and guava together with a wooden spoon. Stir in spinach until well-coated with the mixture. Cover and chill to firm slightly (about an hour).
3. Remove 1 chicken breast from the marinade, scraping excess marinade back into bowl.
4. Insert small sharp knife (paring knife works great) into 1 side of chicken breast; move knife in arc to create large pocket, keeping opening about 1 1/2 inches long. Repeat with remaining chicken.
5. Spoon cream cheese/guava/spinach mixture into a pastry bag (or put in a zip-loc bag and cut off the tip).
6. Pipe the mixture into the chicken breast to fill pockets.
7. Close openings with toothpicks. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)

Cooking the chicken:
1. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large skilllet over medium heat
2. Once the pan is very hot, add 4 chicken breasts to the skillet.
3. Cook until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to plate.
4. Add wine and broth to the skillet. Bring to boil.
5. Add chicken breasts back in the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Transfer chicken to work surface. Let stand 10 minutes.

Caramelizing the mangos:
1. Melt butter in a heavy skillet or dutch oven
2. Sauté mango slices until brown (about 4 minutes)

Reducing the sauce:
1. Heat the wine/chicken broth sauce until slightly thickened and sauce is reduced to 3/4 cup, about 3 minutes.

Plating the dish:
1. Place a chicken breast on the plate, drizzle sauce over chicken. Top and surround chicken with mango.
2. Put salad on the table and let people serve themselves or put a nice-sized portion on their plate for them.
3. Serve with rice pilaf (I just use Near East - simple to make) or couscous.


Anonymous Donna said...

I was invited for this meal and didn't accept. What was I thinking???

2:16 PM  
Anonymous madeira mama said...

Sounds delicious...ingredients are pretty simple.

8:43 PM  

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