When in Doubt…Leave it at 350

baking, cooking, and other adventures

Daring Cooks’ Challenge: Nut Butters July 15, 2010

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

I ended up choosing to make an un-toasted walnut butter because those are the nuts that I had on hand.  Granted, I didn’t blend them all them way because the description that Margie and Natashya gave for the Walnut butter was “Walnuts: form a very soft, oily, pourable butter in 1 or 2 minutes; the skins give walnut butter a slightly tannic and bitter flavor.” But I like my nut butters to be chunky so I was perfectly okay with this.

I blended up the nut butter in my food processor, and then proceeded to make the Chicken with Pecan Cream & Mushrooms.  For this recipe I made a few substitutions, 1) most notably I used Walnuts instead of pecan, 2) whole wheat pasta instead of egg noodles, 3) half a medium onion (chopped) and 2 minced garlic cloves for the shallots, and 4) I used 1/2 cup of beer (Dos Equis) for the deglazing liquid.

This recipe came together pretty quick and both Mike and I really enjoyed it.  The walnut cream sauce was very yummy and every once in awhile it would remind me of a nice chunky/nutty Alfredo sauce.  I will definitely make this recipe again, but next time I am going to make more sauce 🙂

Chicken with Pecan Cream & Mushrooms
Yield: 4 servings

Adapted from Cooking Light, October 2002

Recipe notes: Substitute your favorite pasta or rice in place of the egg noodles. Use fresh rosemary or parsley in place of thyme if you prefer.

Ingredients:

Pecan Cream:
3/4 cup (180 ml) coarsely chopped pecans*, toasted
1 cup (240 ml) water
¾ teaspoon (3 ml) salt, more as needed

½ pound (225 g) egg noodles or pasta
4 (6-ounce / 170 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 teaspoon (5 ml) olive oil, more as needed
Salt & pepper to taste

Sauce:
1 tablespoon (15 ml) deglazing liquid (water, broth, wine; optional)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) olive oil, more as needed
1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped shallots
½ pound (225 g) mushrooms, sliced
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) fresh thyme leaves
Chopped pecans, (optional garnish)

Directions:

  1. Prepare pecan cream. Grind pecans in a food processor for about a minute or so until smooth, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Add water and 3/4 teaspoon (3 ml) salt; process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Set aside pecan cream. (*If starting with prepared pecan butter, blend ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons (90 ml) pecan butter with the water and salt until smooth.)
  2. Cook noodles according to package instructions in salted water. Drain, rinse, and keep warm.
  3. If desired, pound chicken to ¼ inch (6 mm) thickness to promote even cooking. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 teaspoon (5 ml) olive oil a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken; sauté 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Cook the chicken in 2 batches, adding more oil if needed for second batch. Set aside cooked chicken on a clean plate, cover to keep warm.
  4. Add deglazing liquid to pan if using and stir up any browned bits. If needed, add another teaspoon (5 ml) of oil (or more) to pan for sautéing the shallots and mushrooms. Sauté the shallots and mushrooms over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and starting to brown. Add fresh thyme to the pan. Stir in pecan cream; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 1/2 minutes till reduced slightly.
  5. Slice chicken into thin strips. Divide the noodles among serving plates. Add a scoop of the mushroom pecan sauce on top of noodles. Lay sliced chicken on top. Garnish with fresh thyme and/or a pinch of chopped pecans if desired.
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