Wednesday, December 6, 2006

chicken skewers with dukkah crust

chicken skewers with dukkah crust

My inner seven-year-old told every single person she saw or spoke to today that she ate dukkah for dinner last night, but she pronounced it “dook-huh” to emphasize the very dookiness of it. My inner sever-year-old, mind you, not me. I am a civilized, professional woman of the age of 30 in sensible Italian boots and a tasteful cashmere sweater would never relish the first reaction of people who heard she ate something foul-sounding for dinner. Nope, not me, not at all.

dukkah, post-toast, pre-grind

But I did! Not only did I make some dukkah, I rolled fingers of boneless, skinless chicken thighs in it and served it to others on a platter. And we liked the dukkah because the dukkah is good. And now I have probably said dukkah enough times to drive up my search results for the term, only to offend each and every person who lands here looking for a sensible, respectful discussion of this Egyptian spice blend. My apologies, I’ve been trying to act like a grownup for some time now and I find it exhausting.

I first read about dukkah on 101 Cookbooks last week, and knew immediately that I had to make it as I am a bit of a spice fiend. (Though not really an ouch-my-tongue spice fiend, but that for another discussion.) Sadly, I had few plans for what to do with it once I made it so it sat, uncovered (!) on the stove for a day or two until this kind woman named Erika directed me to a recipe for Chicken Dukkah on Chow. Saved! Now I didn’t even have to go out and research good uses for it. Hooray for lazy!

I used Heidi’s suggested recipe from Dave DeWitt and Nancy Gerlach’s Spicy Food Lover’s Bible for my dukkah crust, but I understand that the combinations are endless. I’d suggest looking through them until you find one with all the flavors you love. Chow’s version of dukkah sounds even simpler and milder.

dukkah-coated chicken tenders

We skipped the skewers and having no idea what “chicken tenders” were, just sliced some boneless, skinless chicken thighs into three long strips each. I am not a fan, not one bit, of the accompanying balsamic/honey reduction, and it’s smell reminded me all-too-poignantly of the cranberry port compote I made before Thanksgiving (and dumped, not a spoonful eaten, two weeks later), but I’m sure there are other, perhaps yogurt and garlic-based dipping sauces that could work better. Or you could just eat them without a sauce, as we did. They were very good, and it was great to have something interesting and new in the realm of, well, typically blah and uninspired chicken. (Apologies, but the little cluckers are just not my favorite thing.)

slim garlic chips

We had it over impromptu scallion-specked plain couscous and an Epicurious favorite, pan-browned brussel sprouts, though we had to use mini ones as my store was out of the regular ones “until Thursday” giving me a bit of a Soviet Safeway flashback. This is a great brussel dish if you like nothing quivering or soft about your Brussels, they’ve got a good crunch and a deep, caramelized flavor.

Also? Alex just called me a dukkah head. You see? It’s not just me!

pan-browned baby brussels

Chicken Skewers with Dukkah Crust and Balsamic Reduction
Adapted from Aida Mollenkamp on Chow

For the vinegar-honey sauce:
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
24 chicken tenders, also called chicken tenderloins
1 cup Dukkah
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (Deb note: I skipped this, as a dinner guest does not mix milk and meat)

For the chicken skewers:
1. 24 metal or bamboo skewers (if using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes before using)
2. Heat oven to 350°F.
3. Combine balsamic vinegar and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until reduced by half, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
4. In a shallow bowl, combine the mustard and olive oil, and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss the chicken in the mustard mixture until well coated.
5. Combine the dukkah and Parmigiano-Reggiano in a wide, shallow dish and mix thoroughly. Roll each tender in the dukkah mix until well coated.
6. Thread a chicken tender on each skewer. Place the chicken skewers on wire cooling racks. Nest each wire rack in a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake until the meat is firm and the dukkah crust is golden, about 25 to 30 minutes.
7. Serve the skewers with the vinegar-honey sauce.

Pan-Browned Brussel Sprouts
Adapted Gourmet, April 1999

Serves 2 or 3 as a side dish.

1/2 pound Brussels sprouts
2 large garlic cloves
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts

Trim Brussels sprouts and halve lengthwise. Cut garlic into very thin slices. In a 10-inch heavy skillet (preferably well-seasoned cast iron) melt 1 tablespoon butter with oil over moderate heat and cook garlic, stirring, until pale golden. Transfer garlic with a slotted spoon to a small bowl.

Reduce heat to low and arrange sprouts in skillet, cut sides down, in one layer. Sprinkle sprouts with pine nuts and salt to taste. Cook sprouts, without turning, until crisp-tender and undersides are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

With tongs transfer sprouts to a plate, browned sides up. Add garlic and remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter to skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until pine nuts are more evenly pale golden, about 1 minute. Spoon mixture over sprouts and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.


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