i-never-promised-you-maturity Recipes

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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34 comments on chicken skewers with dukkah crust

  1. Y’know when you have a chicken breast, there’s that one piece that seems like it just doesn’t fit, tends to hang loose and then sometimes fall off?? That’s the chicken tender. Just a handy dandy bit of knowledge to make you more interesting at your next cocktail party.

    Your chicken looks yummy….and me? I am a certified spice fiend too. I just am not sure you need to undergo painful experiences just to eat something good.

  2. You don’t know what a chicken tender is? Hehehe…MY inner seven-year-old is laughing at your inner seven-year-old.

    The tender is the chicken tenderloin which is usually used to make chicken fingers, I think. You can buy them in packages at the grocery store. Or at least you can in Mississippi. I cut skinless, boneless breasts into strips and use them for chicken tenders.

  3. I tried Dukkah as a crust for Pork Tenderloin with great success, but I adore your idea of dukkah on chicken and I think maybe I’ll try dukkah with the brussels sprouts (as a side dish with something else)! I’ve been using pre-made dukkah from NoMU and The Occasional Gourmet but you’ve inspired me to try making my own.

  4. S

    Deb, I made those salted caramels and they are yummy! I never realized that I could (successfully) make candy at home. It’s funny how you wrote about grey salt awhile ago, because I bought a thing of grey salt the night before it was posted. Anyhow, I crumbled this grey salt on top…I don’t know if this was the right kind of salt to sprinkle the caramels with, but I think I need to add more, cuz it’s not salty enough (at least to me).

  5. S

    actually, I had a couple of questions for you: 1. If you have a big block of chocolate, how on earth do you cut it down to smaller pieces without swearing like a sailor? and 2. I don’t know if you attempted the caramels again with the 255 degrees temp., but how do you cut those caramels so that they are even pieces (I just used a regular kitchen knife, and I was not having an easy time getting them to look “sharp”).

  6. deb

    Kate – Who knew?! I actually prefer dark meat as it’s so much less dry and I love the thigh meat because it seems so perfectly portioned. Ah, if only I could embrace the same adoration of my own thighs, but these self-deprecating musings for another day.

    I do loathe, by the way, the presumption that because you like spices you find thai or Serrano chiles appetizing. I don’t mind a little hint of fire, but I’m more interesting in big, bold and complex flavors, and not letting them get upstaged.

    Howard – Ok, I know what a chicken tender is, I admit. I just didn’t know how you would buy them except in some scary Purdue-approved product. It was funny to see that suggest on Chow of all places, an off-brand of Chowhound, not exactly renown for their appreciation of simple folk food. Also, pbbbblt.

    Joanne – That sounds delicious! Heidi also suggested you sprinkle it on a vegetable or cauliflower, which was my initial intention for it before deciding it didn’t need any further dressing-up.

    S – I’m glad you liked them. I bet they are a great use for those fancy salts; certainly better than my too-finely ground coarse, basic sea salt. Ah well. It was my punishment for swearing off the fancy stuff.

    I didn’t have any trouble cutting mine — though I did rub the knife before each cut with vegetable oil, as the recipe suggested. Although my knives are sharp, I suspect it worked easily because my caramels worked out too soft. Are yours too hard? I mentioned earlier that I’m not even sure what the right caramel consistency is, but I know mine isn’t it. Maybe hard to cut is exactly right. Or, it should be if you love them as they are. :)

  7. I’ve been struggling with my vegeterianism lately… not so much because I feel unfulfilled with actually eating vegetables, but, oh, the culinary possibilities for cooking stuff that would be open to me! This looks like an interesting spice mixture though

  8. S

    I guess you could describe my caramel as one that has a consistency not too hard, but not soft…kind of like a Riesen but without the chocolate coat. Actually, it’s probably a little bit softer than a Riesen. I was suprised at how long it took to get the temperature upto 255, maybe 10-15 minutes? Do you know the answer to my chocolate question, btw?

  9. Those brussel sprouts look yummy! I always cheat and just roast mine in the oven, maybe it is time I branched out! Love that the inner 7 year old is alive and well.

  10. I think this chicken looks and sounds wonderful. Why couldn’t you do it with thighs? And the spice mix sounds so good everything is on my list for the grocery store today.
    Never promised maturity – who said we were looking for maturity. That was your grade school teacher. I say power to the inner seven year old!!!

  11. I’m intrigued by the dukka thing – last week Heidi, this week you. It is also in “More Home Cooking” (Laurie Colwin) in a chapter called Condiments. She claims to eat it right from the jar. Her recipe is a little different – it’s got cinnamon instead of fennel and mint. I think it’s time to plunge in.

  12. I want to make the chicken just to serve to my children. Then I can look disapproving while inside I chuckle at their comments.

    The brussel sprouts look amazing.

  13. Erika

    This sounds soooo good! I am not sure how I feel about the mustard, though. Did you give any thought to marinating the chicken in yogurt and then rolling it in the Dukkah?

  14. Cupcakes

    OK OK OK GOD JEEZE TWIST MY ARM PEOPLE.

    Fine.. after reading all the glorious remarks about this dukkah stuff.. i shall too, give it a try…It better be as yummie as you’ve all said, or someones getting the bill for the spices.(im sure my grammar here was horrible.. its that whole 7 year old inner child thing kickin’ in)

    oh i lol @ the ta daa dukkah chicken.. I think thats a total keeper.

  15. Shelly

    My inner 7-year-old reminds me that I thought mom was trying to poison me when she made me brussel sprouts! That bitter taste is what did it. So when my inner 7-year-old grew up, I thought I’d try them again… nope, mom is STILL trying to poison me! lol

  16. Sara

    Hi Deb, I just started reading your blog a couple of weeks ago and I love it! Thanks for the dukkah idea. It’s delicious. I made it tonight and served it with pita and olive oil, much to the delight of my two-year-old, who had a little too much fun saying “dew-KUH…yummy” over and over until he fell asleep tonight.

  17. Glad you’re all getting into the dukkah. It’s a staple in Australia, and surfaced around the time that “turkish bread” became popular here (rectangular light sourdough-style bread with very large air pockets; used in most cafes for sandwiches, paninis, and as an alternative to focaccia). We like to serve it in a small dipping bowl with olive oil on the side whenever bread is served. Dip the bread first in the olive oil, then into the dukkah and pop into le mouth. Yum! Note – I’ve had nightmare experiences trying to remove the skin from the hazelnuts; I would recommend buying them already skinned.

  18. This dish looks fantastic.

    I e-mailed you this morning concerning two of your Donna Hay-inspired recipes. (Isn’t she great? Have loads of her books…anyway). My friend has a wine site called InterWined.com; he recently asked me to help with a new feature called ‘Blow the Bank’, where every Friday InterWined pairs one great dish with one great wine. I really like you site and your recipes and think that this dish would be a perfect choice. For an example of ‘Blow the Bank’, check out InterWined.com’s pairing of a dish courtesy of Rubber Slippers in Italy.

    Anyway, I hope you get the e-mail and look forward to hearing from you.

  19. Nina

    I made the brussel sprouts twice this week. Twice. I hate brussel sprouts, but they looked so pretty at the farmers’ market… and then I found this recipe. I am a brussel sprout convert. Thanks! :)

  20. Yael

    I know this is old, and you probably won’t see it or respond to it, but just wanted to add that if my Egypt-born mother saw your dukkah (it is actually pronounced do’ah, as far as I know), she would probably make this weird little face she does when somebody messes with her childhood memories and say something derogatory about Americans. :) But mothers are like that.
    I do like the idea of using it with meat – sounds like a fun variation.

  21. Kimby

    Hi! Just made this for the hubby and I tonight and it was delicious. He said that it was a great pairing of flavors. I didn’t have hazelnuts so I used pecans and forgot to pick up fennel seed at the store so I added extra mint. Turned out great but I’ll try it by the book next time. Made it with thighs because, like you, chicken breast is just tasteless in comparison. Me and the hubby thought these were the best brussel sprouts we’ve ever had! Simple but yummy…

  22. Eileen

    Holy flavor explosion! Made this last night, dukkah as in the Spice Lovers Bible, and on boneless skinless thighs. What a treat. We also enjoyed the honey-balsamic reduction. Had this with roasted cauliflower, sweet potatos, and caramelized onions. I totally forgot about a grain, cous cous would have been great. I am so excited to try the dukkah on many other foods! Thank you!

  23. Deb, Here and now I admit an addiction to your ‘Surprise Me!’ button. I knew we shared a love of recipe collection but I never knew we shared an understanding of grocery store politics. I’m a GW grad (twice over, oy) and still in DC!

  24. Vicki

    We loved the chicken dukkah. Albacore tuna is in season here in the Pacific Northwest so I dipped the tuna in olive oil (skipped the mustard and cheese), pressed on the dukkah and seared it briefly. It was so good with and without the honey-balsamic reduction. I made tuna dukkah once this way and cut it in cubes for an appetiser and again as a main course. Thanks for all your amazing ideas.

  25. marilyn

    i’ve been making a similar dukkah crusted chicken for years – but first, i marinate the chicken overnight in plain yogurt – give a lovely tenderness and flavour to the chicken (especially if you chuck in some minces garlic/onion with the yogurt) and gives the dukkah something to stick to. dukkah made with macadamia nuts is a favourite!

  26. Lita

    Deb, you may need to reread Laurie Colwin’s “Home Cooking” books! Not sure which one it’s in, but she talks about her discovery of dukkah and subsequent obsession.
    On another Laurie Colwin related note: I often wonder what food blogging would sound like if we had never “known” her. I think the way many of us write about food has been greatly influenced by her writing style, directly or indirectly. Hope that made sense – it did in my head, but now that I’ve written it down, maybe not so much! Thank you for your enchanting and delicious blog!

    1. deb

      Lita — I adore her! I don’t know how many food bloggers have read her (many have, but many are so young). I know I hadn’t before I started the site; caught up after someone told me about her. But I love her writing and think modern food writing owes her a lot.

  27. Hey Deb! These sound so great and I’m looking to stock my freezer with some stuff my partner can just toss in the oven on the nights I work late… Would these freeze well? If so, would I get the chicken all rolled in the crust and then freeze the tenders raw? And then could they be baked straight from the freezer? I’m a freezer, do-ahead noob… Thanks!

  28. EL

    Is there such a thing as sensible Italian boots? Love your posts and even though I’m years late in catching up, I’m glad that you are posting every day.