Our friend Jeff is in residence this weekend so my mini-hiatus from cooking has come to an end. Not that I mind. Sometimes having houseguests is just the thing that's needed to kick-start one's flagging culinary enthusiasm. More about that later.
Fresh corn, cilantro and honey tangerines in the market were my inspiration for dinner tonight. What began in my mind as one salsa quickly morphed into two in the cooking process as I decided that adding black beans to the beautiful corn dish would make it really ugly and, while probably tasty, decidedly not blog-worthy.
As things came together, I thought of Normie's request from some time ago for something spicy with no meat. Leave out the chicken breast, spoon the salsas over steamed spaghetti squash and you've got a fresh, vegetarian explosion of flavors. Just a thought! Either way, this is a company pleaser. Plus, with all the fresh goodies in it, I've decided it's a worthy offering for Herb Blogging Weekend #30 over at Kalyn's Kitchen.
Fresh Corn Salsa
1 red bell pepper, charred, peeled and cut into small dice
1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, depending on their heat, charred, peeled and cut into small dice
3 ears fresh, white corn, kernels cut from cob
1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped into small dice
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon cumin seed, ground slightly in a mortar
1/3 cup red onion, chopped into small dice
1/3 cup packed, fresh cilantro leaves, chopped fine
1 mango, peeled and cut into small dice
1 tablespoon Safflower or Canola oil and 2 teaspoons butter for the pan
Salt & pepper to taste
Char and peel the peppers and place in a paper bag to sweat. Set aside.
Prep the rest of the ingredients before beginning to assemble the salsa.
Melt the oil and butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the sweet onion and saute until softened but not browned. Add the corn kernels, garlic, ground cumin seed and coriander and continue to cook until the corn is still crunchy but cooked slightly and the spices give off their aromas, about 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl. (Use the cast iron skillet for the chicken breasts below.)
Add the chopped cilantro, red onion, red and jalapeno peppers and mango to the corn mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust seasonings if needed and set aside at room temperature.
Black Bean Salsa
2 cans small black beans, rinsed and drained well
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons red onion, small dice
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
juice and pulp from 1 honey tangerine
Salt & pepper to taste
In a bowl, mix all ingredients until well blended. Adjust seasonings to taste and set aside at room temperature.
4 halves skinless, boneless chicken breast filets, pounded to a uniform 1/4-1/2-inch thickness
1/2 cup no fat, low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
juice from 1 honey tangerine to measure about 1/3 cup
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut in 1 tablespoon pieces
safflower or canola oil for the skillet
salt and pepper to taste
Place oil in cast iron skillet used for the corn and heat over medium high. When hot, add the pounded chicken breasts, not crowding the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes on one side, seasoning with kosher salt, then flip over to the other side and cook 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and tent loosely with foil.
Keeping the heat under the pan, add the chicken broth and stir, loosening the browned bits from the bottom. Add the white wine and tangerine juice and boil until reduced by 1/2. Quickly whisk in the butter, one tablespoon at a time until fully melted and the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and add the chicken breasts back to the pan with the juices that accumulated on the plate. Stir to coat the chicken.
To plate, place a breast on each plate with a spoonful of each salsa beside. Spoon pan sauce over the chicken.
[Also on the menu was pan roasted asparagus which is very easy to prepare. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Wash and trim 1 pound or more asparagus spears (can be peeled with a vegetable peeler) and place on a parchment lined sheet pan. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil then sprinkle with kosher salt and some toasted sesame seeds. Roast in oven for about 12 minutes or until soft, but not mushy, and slightly browned.]
Dessert was fresh, sliced strawberries accompanied by pieces of dark chocolate and very small glasses, thimbles really, of Taylor Fladgate 20 year old tawny Port. Oh, the decadence of it all.
And lest you're wondering what happened to my low carb weight loss regime? That's for another post.
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