Monday, February 8, 2010

Skillet Roasted Cardamom Apple Chicken

I was tempted to post the Super Bowl Sunday meal I created, but I already promised to post the recipe instructions for the Wine-Down Wednesday- The Other Bordeaux selections. 'Partners In Wine' Club will post our winning Super Bowl Saints meal with a 'Bordeaux- Part deux' this Wednesday.

Reading Eric Asimou's piece two weeks ago I notice the mention of a spice that I love to play with in my food experimentation in a recipe offered to pair with their suggested Bordeaux' Florence Fabricant

"Hardly show-offs, the Bordeaux wines priced less than $20 are workmanlike, perhaps a little brash, but they are fine to accompany a straightforward plate of food.

A chicken casserole that is satisfyingly sturdy, a little rustic if you will, is thoroughly appropriate for the modest Bordeaux.

For the earthiness of the wines you have lentils. For their whisper of spice, cumin. The radicchio insinuates a bitter edge, to confront the tannins in some of the wines. In keeping with the price, everyday chicken thighs soak up these flavors.

The casserole can be prepared ahead and reheated, but be sure there is enough stock to keep the lentils very moist. Mashed potatoes alongside would not be a mistake".

After studying her recipe I remembered an Indian Fusion recipe I had created for a cooking class years ago infusing apples cooked in cardamom, I decided it would also add to the element of making this rustic dish have a sweet edge to match the cumin lentils, bitterness of the radicchio, and would help balance the tannins of the selected Bordeaux.

It worked very well.

Skillet Roasted Cardamom Apple Chicken (inspiration from NYTimes Article)

Pairings: Chicken Baked With Lentils
Wines of The Times: Exploring Bordeaux’s Other Side


Cast Iron skillet, or suitable casserole 

1 1/2 cups peeled and sliced Gala Apples
- soak in 1 part lemon/lime juice and 3 part water mixture
1/3 cup light brown sugar, or pure cane sugar (remember: Sugar Is Sugar)
2 tablespoons margarine or butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom*

- Heat butter in skillet and add apples, salt, nutmeg and cardamom, and 3 tablespoons of lemon water. Cook until apples become translucent. Set aside.

 1 whole free range chicken with skin on, cut into pieces, pat dry 

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups finely chopped onions
2 slices pancetta, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup finely chopped celery, about 1 rib
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 teaspoons ground cumin*
2 cups chopped radicchio (chiffinode- ribbons), about 1/2 head, cored
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 cups lentils (French- Lentilles de Puy)

3 1/4 cups chicken stock, more if needed.

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees

1. Heat oil in a 4-quart ovenproof casserole. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add, skin side down. Sear until golden on medium-high heat, working in two shifts if necessary.  Add 1/4 cup chicken stock to skillet, and bake uncovered for about 20 minutes, then spoon over apple mixture (reserve some for presentation); bake until chicken is cooked through (internal temp of 180 for bone in chicken).

2. In a 5 quart pot add onions, pancetta, celery and garlic, cook on medium until soft and translucent. Stir in cumin. Add radicchio and vinegar; sauté briefly. Add lentils and stock. Cook about an hour, until lentils are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, but not all. Lentils should be sauce like but not soupy. Add a little stock if needed. Check seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed, then serve.

I garnished dish with some fresh chiffinode- ribbons of radicchio, and apples.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

*In last weeks post I mention that this dishes flavor was far more complex, and not so 'straightforward' as the article mentions from my point of view. Why? Because of these-

Cardamom- (typically used in curries, or as pods in Masala Chai) is quite aromatic, but very overpowering in flavor, so use with caution and in small amounts, even with chicken.  

Cumin- (typically used in many ethnic recipes) is commonly used in Mexican cooking (comino) as well as a common ingredient in Indian and Malaysian cooking. It is best lightly toasted then ground in a mortar and pestle. Overused cumin also becomes very overpowering. This dish was right up my alley, and it worked, but be careful in the amounts you use when duplicating recipes. This was their recommendation, along with lentils.

'Partners In Wine' Club Recommendations: (Cool Vines & Joe Canals, Princeton, NJ)

Landot Haut-Medoc '04 $17, Paired well with Cardamom Apple Skillet Roasted Chicken, and Cumin seasoned Lentils. The more it breathed, the better it became as it opened up; dark berry flavors with hints of woodsiness that went well with the chicken, and balanced out the sweetness of cardamom apples sauce I spooned over chicken and side; we felt it could have aged a few more years, and was better the next day.

Note: Normally we do not keep opened wine for more than a few days, and we even pump out the air with a Vacu Vin and stopper; we noticed the wine after a week was still very full bodied and enjoyable. Also a leftover Amarone went very well with this dish!

White Chateau du Champ des Treilles '08 $14.50, as an extra we purchased a White Bordeaux, which on many occasion I have enjoyed White Burgundy as well- We opened this bottle with the dish; it definitely went with cardamom apples and chicken, but not with the nuttiness or cumin of the side. Great with chocolate covered dried cherries we ate for dessert!