Thursday, March 11, 2010

An Orgasm of Flavors

"It's wednesday . . . I know what you're trying to say girl. You're trying to say oh yeah, It's business time." --Jemaine, Flight of the Conchords

A couple of years ago, I started cooking really nice meals in celebration of American Idol-watching. That tradition has kind of fallen off with wedding planning, trying to go to the gym more, and just general busy-ness at work, but last night was an exception. I found a recipe I wanted to try from the March 2010 edition of Saveur magazine, and made it this Wednesday night. D said it was "an orgasm of flavors." I think that's a good description.

Moroccan Chicken with Carrot Puree

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
2 lbs carrots
1 large white onion
4 large garlic cloves
1 1/2 cup orange guice
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 peeled and seeded oranges, segmented
3/4 cup harissa*
2 tsp sherry or champagne vinegar
2 cups salad greens
1/2 cup pitted, oil-cured black olives, roughly chopped
2 shallots, thinly sliced

*Harissa is a North African pepper paste. I'm a very lucky person, as my friend S brought a jar of homemade Tunisian harissa over last month. This is the first I've had a chance to use it. (Clicking on "harissa" above will bring you to the Wikipedia page describing it).

Start by boiling roughly chopped carrots until soft in order to make the puree. I started this the night before, and while the carrots were boiling, I placed the chicken breasts in a container with olive oil, salt and pepper to sit overnight. I then sauteed the onions and garlic until carmelized, added the carrots and sauteed until they started to carmelize as well. Then I put the mixture in a food processor and made the puree. I set that aside for the next day.

The next day, I browned the chicken in a pan with olive oil and then placed them in the oven topped with most of the harissa at about 400 degrees F. While the chicken was finishing, I made the orange sauce by reducing 1 1/2 cups of orange juice in a pan, adding 4 tbsp butter, salt and pepper. As the mixture started to thicken, I added the orange segments.

I then tossed the greens with olive oil, vinegar, shallots and chopped olives.

I heated up the carrot puree, and plated the dish by putting a dollop of carrot puree on the side of the plate, and arranging the greens on top. I then placed one chicken breast on the bed of greens and topped the whole thing with orange sauce.

The whole thing was both festive looking and delicious.


toomuchbetter said...

Looks delicious! 3/4 c of harissa? That's one hot orgasm!

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MysticGypsy said...

I actually have two jars of harissa--one is much hotter than the other. If you make this recipe, you should definitely check the heat of the harissa and add to taste.