Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Basil Chicken Tacos with Relish and Cream

Do you know how when you buy basil it smells so good and is such a lovely and bright addition to your meal, but a little goes a long way? Inevitably, you put the rest of it in the fridge and two nights later half of the basil is brown and dying? Yeah. I hate it when that happens. Thus, the other day Joey and I blended up the basil with garlic in his food processor. We ended up using it to make Southwest Potatoes with a poached a egg on top.

It was a great meal. We followed Bittman's lead, but made it better by using the basil puree as the oil base and then, also using some fat rendered from a wonderful smokey bacon from the Meat Hook (thanks Sean) to brown the potatoes. At the end, we used the crumbled bacon on top of the dish before finishing with cilantro and lastly the egg. I don't have pictures from that meal, but trust me, It was awesome.

At home I made my own basil puree in a blender. It is a lot harder to do it in a blender, so if you are going to, put very few leaves at a time and be prepared to use more oil. As a slight aside, Bittman just wrote an article on the wonder and awesomeness of food processors.

The second puree was just basil and oil. Today I finally got to use it and what I made was so good, I am sharing it with you.

Making the chicken

thin cut chicken cutlets (1 per person)
basil puree (olive oil and basil pureed together)
Adobo, salt and pepper to taste

I followed a loose interpretation of another Bittman idea to cook them up, basically using the puree as a moisture seal for the lean meat.

Making the relish

For the relish, and really the whole idea of having tacos this week, I was inspired by a show on the food network. It's one about using just five ingredients to make things. I don't know what the name of the show is. Anyway, the show was more of an inspiration than a directive and I just used what I had.

Equal parts diced yellow onion, green pepper and radishes
Lemon zest and dry cumin

I felt pretty ingenious when I put this together. I knew that I wanted to add a lemon flavor to the relish but I did not want to add a lemon, oil combo to it because the cutlets are packed with an olive oil infused stuffing. Instead I took my peeler and shaved off some zest and diced it up and threw it in the bowl with the vegetables and then sprinkled the whole thing with cumin. I chose cumin because if I had fresh cilantro, I would have put it in.

Making the Cream

This was the easiest part and I also got my inspiration for making this from that cooking show. I took polish cream, which is basically just like sour cream except that the reduced fat version still only had cream in it rather than stuff like corn syrup (yuck Breakstone's). Anyway, I took a spoonful of that and mixed it with a spoonful of Salpica Habanero Lime salsa. Both are really good on their own, so their marriage was the perfect edible proof that opposites attract. The creamy cooling flavors mixing harmoniously with the acidic, smokey ones, perfectly topped my happy little tacos.


I am posting more pictures on Facebook, if you want to check them out. I hope this inspires some of you to try this at home.

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