Sunday, July 5, 2015

Roast Chicken with Pistachio Salsa, Peppers and Corn

This recipe would probably be more aptly named Our Way to Jazz Up Roast Chicken, but I must give credit where credit is due and at least bid homage to the recipe title in it's entirety. Back in November, I gave y'all a recipe for Perfect Roast Chicken and so I see no need to reinvent the wheel and bore you with yet another way to cook a bird. Especially since I already shared with you a perfect one. Actually, I'm going to go so far as to tell you NOT to roast your own chicken. This recipe (for us) is a means to take a delicious and cheap $4.99 Costco rotisserie chicken and dress it up with fixings that make it both interesting and delicious AND doable on a busy weeknight. You can certainly go the extra mile and cook the chicken yourself but in the summertime I say why bother?

I used to have a really negative relationship with pistachios. They were one of those foods that I couldn't even look at without a wave of nausea and a sudden urge to run to the restroom, lips tightly sealed to prevent the inevitable. I blame Christmas for these intense bodily responses. I was one of four Wilson siblings and my parents did a really good job of making sure healthy foods were served in our home. We weren't deprived of sweets and goodies by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe one could argue that we weren't exposed to them often enough to learn self moderation or maybe we were just kids and it was just a part of the process of growing up, but every time we went to a party or extended family gathering, we would go HOG. WILD. Sweets abounded. There were M&Ms in bowls in our reach. There were cookies and candy and chips and dessert everywhere. And we didn't hold back. We would run around free range, eating and stuffing our faces silly. When the gathering would conclude, late into the evening, my parents would pry us away from our cousins and load us into the car to make the 90 minute drive home. We would usually drive a couple miles, sometimes even a few cities down the freeway before it happened.

"Mom, I think I'm going to throw up."

A little voice broke the silence from the back seat. My dad would swerve off the road and tear open the door to the mini van, knowing he had about a 4 seconds between little voice and event. It was like clock work and it happened every time. Usually it was the older of my younger brothers. He became such a regular at post-party-upchucking that my parents quit getting out the of car to open the door for him. They would veer to the shoulder and he would open the door himself and just lean out. I guess you could say it became holiday tradition.

I remember one such Christmas gathering, the one where I first discovered pistachios. They were salted and in the shell, piled in a bowl right next to the M&Ms on the jigsaw puzzle card table. I was always a party-puzzle-doer and spent a lot of my holiday hours at these tables, mindlessly filling my belly with whatever snacks were in front of me. I'd never had a pistachio before. They seemed foreign in their clam-like shells. And who in their right mind chooses to eat a nut when chocolate is the other option? It was probably peer pressure that led me to give them a try and I quickly found myself hooked. But my new-found pistachio affection was brief. A series of unfortunate events succeeded that first taste, the details of which I no longer recall but I think it's safe to say a lot of chocolate was involved. Let's just say it was my voice pleading for my parents to pull the car over on our drive home that night.

Sorry. I know you weren't expecting to read about puke on a food blog. You are probably all thinking Does she think we are going to WANT to make this recipe after reading all that? Why yes, yes, I do. Now that I've totally grossed you out, let me, like the expert writer that I am, abruptly change the subject and give you the recipe.  I'll suffice it to say that for 20 years, I couldn't even look at a pistachio without growing green in the face. It was really, really tragic, the poor nut left overlooked for so many years. But they say some things get better with age. Nevermind, I don't think that analogy works here. ANYWAY, somehow, for some reason, I decided to give pistachios another chance and this recipe was 50% of the reason why. If that doesn't sell you on it, I don't know will. (But marketing has never really been my thing...)

I should tell you right off the bat that the Pistachio Salsa is not a salsa in the double-as-a-dip-for-your-chip sense. It takes on more of the Spanish definition of the word "salsa" as in a sauce or chutney. It is very forgiving and the pistachios can be evenly chopped or barely even chopped at all and it's still delicious. I will say that it is worth it to find shelled pistachios (Trader Joe's sells these) to save you the laborious process of tearing apart those clam-like nuts that seem to bite you back with each pull. It's hard to believe a 5 ingredient "salsa" could add this much flavor and dimension to a dish but it does, contributing crunch and interest to what ordinarily might just "taste like chicken." I'm sure it would be a delicious accompaniment to other meats in addition to chicken too. Or if pulsed in a food processor, the ingredients would make an instant vegetarian pesto.

I prepare this recipe year round but most often in the summer months when fresh corn and bell peppers are at their finest. The vegetable portion requires a little chopping but I love the combination of sweet corn, crunchy peppers and spicy jalapenos. I scaled back the red pepper flakes and jalapenos called for significantly as my troops are resistant to spice. Feel free to up the quantity if you really want a dish with some kick. The capers also add an element of flavor complexity to the dish that I just love.

So, the next time you pass one of those insanely affordable rotisserie chickens at Costco, throw one in the cart and jazz it up and make this. It's fit for company. I promise.

Roast Chicken with Pistachio Salsa, Peppers and Corn
(adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine)

1 rotisserie chicken

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons minced capers plus 1 teaspoon caper brine
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
5 cups thinly sliced yellow, orange, and red bell peppers (about 3 large peppers)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, thinly sliced
3 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 3 ears)
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh chives
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

MAKE THE PEPPERS AND CORN Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, capers, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add peppers and jalapenos; season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 10–12 minutes. Stir in caper brine, corn, parsley, and vinegar just before serving.

MAKE THE PISTACHIO SALSA Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Stir in oil. Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Let come to room temperature before serving. Serve with chicken, peppers and corn.

Serves 4-6

1 comment:

  1. You are an incredibly entertaining writer, and you are always an amazing source for great new recipes. Thank you!!!


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