The “salt” in this dish comes from the intriguing flavor of preserved lemons which you can easily make or buy. You will need to have these prepared and in your larder for a period of time before making this recipe. The “pepper” is finely julienned poblano chile peppers.
SALT & PEPPER CHICKEN
“FEAST OF SUNLIGHT”, Norman Van Aken, © 2019
Yield: Serves 4
For the Sauce:
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
6 whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf, broken
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup pitted pickled Niçoise or other non-salty olives
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 pound butter, cut into small pieces and kept cold
1/4 cup olive oil
Four 10-ounce boneless chicken breasts, skin on, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
1 large Spanish onion, peeled and sliced
3 poblano peppers, stems, ribs, and seeds removed, finely julienned
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
2/3 cup red wine
1 cup Chicken Stock
8 sections Preserved Lemons, finely julienned (rind only!)
Make the sauce: Put the shallots, black peppercorns, and bay leaf in a saucepan with the red wine vinegar and reduce the vinegar to 1 Tablespoon. Add the red wine and half of the olives. Continue to reduce until most of the liquid is gone. Add the cream and reduce by half.
Now whisk in the butter, piece by piece, until it is all incorporated. Strain sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a warm, clean bowl or bain-marie. Stir in the remaining olives. Reserve and keep warm.
Heat a large, heavy pan big enough to comfortably hold the chicken breasts. Add the olive oil. When the pan is moderately hot add the breasts, skin side down. Shake to keep breasts from sticking.
Add the onion slices and cook 1 minute. Add the julienned poblano peppers and tomatoes and toss the vegetables, fitting them in and around the chicken. Add the red wine and reduce the heat to medium.
When the wine is reduced by half, turn the breasts skin side up and add the chicken stock and half of the preserved lemon. Lower the heat to low and simmer very gently just until the chicken breasts are cooked. Remove to a warm place while the pan juices are reducing.
Surround the braised chicken breasts with the braising juices and vegetables. (Note: You could serve this on top of mashed or roasted potatoes to cut some of the richness). Spoon the prepared sauce over the chicken.
Garnish with the rest of the preserved lemon. Serve.
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