Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Choice: Brazilian Chicken, a Delicious Do-over

How's your summer?  I hope wherever you are, you are staying nice and cool, relaxed, and are enjoying some good food.  If you're like me, you're taking some time to enjoy some good books, too.

We had the most uneventful Fourth of July, ever.  It's been so doggone hot these last two weeks.  We did have a teensy bit of an adventure when we lost power for about thirty-six hours following that crazy storm last weekend; although we spent a good chunk of last Saturday in Washington DC to meet up with friends who were in town to attend a wedding.  We had planned to go back to D.C. for the July 4 holiday and take in a baseball game, and possibly even the fireworks, but decided to stick close to home.  It was like a typical Saturday, really; I went to the grocery store, we took in a movie (The Amazing Spider-Man.  Joe didn't like it much, because he thought it was just a re-mash of the original one from ten years ago, when Tobey Macguire acquired a spider bite and suddenly developed incredible superpowers. The rest of us thought it was great.  Don't listen to those whiners who try to tell you it's old hat.) and we cooked hot dogs and brats on the grill.  We did manage to put on our own little private fireworks display in our driveway, though.

(I also tried making custard-style ice cream again, but I hadn't kept the ice-cream maker bowl in the freezer long enough, and we ended up having amazingly delicious milkshakes with our brats!)

On Sunday, since we thankfully had power back, I decided to take another go at the Brazilian Chicken Cutlets I couldn't seem to make properly last time I tried.  (Click here to find out why I decided to make them in the first place, and what Gabby was cooking for Travis in The Choice.)

I've had the recipe for a few years, and have made it on occasion; ever since Rachael Ray cooked it on her television talk show.
We interrupt this blog for a small trivia quiz:
Which Brazilian race car driver was a guest on the Rachael Ray Show and cooked this dish with her?
                a.  Tony Kanaan
                b.  Helio Castroneves
                c.  Rubens Barrichello
                d.  Gil de Ferran
Hint:  Rachael is a huge Dancing With the Stars fan.
It's Helio Castroneves, of course; and you can see the recipe AND a video of Rachael and Helio yukking it up in the kitchen here.  And if you saw my last "7 Quick Takes" post, you've seen a picture that I took of Helio a month or so after he won the famed Mirror Ball Trophy.  (And less than a year after that, he won the Indianapolis 500 for the third time.)  To those of you who couldn't care less, I apologize.  Back to what we're cooking...
Here's the recipe:



8 to 10 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Zest and juice of 1 lemon, divided
1/2 cup (a large handful) parsley, chopped
A few dashes hot sauce
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large, ripe mango, pitted and chopped
4 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1/4 cup (about a palmful) cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Few dashes nutmeg
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus more as needed
Make a paste for the cutlets by placing the garlic into a bowl with a small pinch of salt. Using a spoon, mash the salt and garlic together into a paste. Add in the lemon juice, parsley, hot sauce and some freshly ground black pepper, and reserve.
Flatten the chicken breasts into cutlets by butterflying each piece. Open each breast up and pound them out by placing them into a large zipper bag one at a time with a small amount of water. Seal the bag, squeezing out as much air as you can. Pound the chicken with a small, cast iron skillet until it's evenly thin. As you finish each breast, place them into another large plastic zipper bag or mixing bowl. Once all the breasts are pounded out, add the garlic paste to the zipper bag or bowl and toss the chicken around to coat it evenly. Marinate for about 10 minutes.

While the chicken is marinating, prepare the raw sauce by combining the mango, plum tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, some salt and freshly ground black pepper in a medium mixing bowl. Toss everything to combine and set aside until you're ready to serve.
Yields: 4 servings
(Source:  Rachael Ray Show)

I made some slight changes to the recipe.  First, I made the garlic paste in the food processor rather than trying to mash by hand.  I marinaded the chicken in a dish instead of a plastic bag.  Rachael is not the Food Police.  She wouldn't care.

I tried to make the raw tropical sauce--it's more like a salsa, really; it could even pass for a salad--as the recipe directed; the only difference was using local tomatoes I picked up from the Farmer's Market instead of Romas.  I even tried cutting the mango the way Rachael suggests, and it worked fairly well.  AND my mango was nicely ripe; in fact, I used two of them.  (When you cut a mango, quite a bit of the flesh clings to the seed.  I particularly enjoyed nibbling some of the extra mango from the pit.  Did you know I used to despise mangoes?  I can't imagine why.  Now I love them..)

What do you think of my lame attempt at still life photography?

I had planned on making bread crumbs with some of my leftover gluten free bread, but I didn't get around to it.  Instead I just dipped the chicken in my favorite gluten free breading before frying.

(Fitting name given that this post is inspired by The Choice, right?  This makes a great batter when you mix it with water; for this recipe I just dipped the chicken right in the mix like I would with flour.)

It was pretty hot out, but tolerable enough by evening to enjoy our meal outside.

Normally by the time I post something here I'm already reading the next book and planning my next meal; often I've already cooked it and everything.  Not so this time around, but I expect you'll see something from The Last Song in the near future.  That book has been calling my name.  Stay tuned!

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