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Covering My Nut February 25, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Food, random stuff.
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Heh.  That phrase has always just tickled me to no end.

I’ve gotta cover my nut.  Like I’m a business- squirrel or something.

Hey, there, chipmunk, make sure you cover your nut there.

It just sounds almost-dirty – but it’s not.  It’s just about business – basically covering expenses.  Covering your nut.  Heh.

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Anyway.  This has nothing to do with that.  I’m talking hazelnuts here.  Specifically, a bed of herby hazelnuts covered by chicken.

I know, right?  Interesting . . .

A while back, I stumbled upon some French guy‘s recipe for “Roast Chicken Breast with Rosemary” which sounded interesting.  Actually, it sounded simple, quick, AND interesting.

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And, since our rosemary is not dead yet, this seemed like a perfect dish to try.

Peeps pointed out that I have not mentioned my wonderful new mezzaluna and board that he got me for Christmas.

John Boos & Co. makes some of the most gorgeous cutting boards I’ve ever seen, and, since I decided that  the mezzaluna is the coolest thing going, well, he put two and two together and got me the Boos gift pack – a mezzaluna along with the board and conditioner.  It’s absolutely gorgeous – and I believe that if you LOVE your quality tools, you use them more.

PhotobucketSo.  Back to the nuts and the covering thereof.    While I was lovin’ on my mezzaluna chopping not-dead rosemary, Peeps was chopping 2 Tablespoons of hazelnuts.  And for what it’s worth, 2 Tablespoons of hazelnuts is about 8 nuts.  We stirred together the chopped nuts, the mezzaluned not-dead rosemary, and a teaspoon of kosher salt, then just set the combination aside.

PhotobucketI used some chicken breasts that I boned and, for this meal, left the skin on.  Take 3 or 4 boneless, skin-ON chicken breasts, and I like to take a paper towel (or 2) and pat them dry first, then season them.  I used plenty of salt and pepper, but I think, next time, I’d use plenty of pepper and be sparing with the salt.

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First you’ll want to preheat your oven – 450 to 500° is good.

Now, heat a cast iron (or other oven-safe) pan with a bit of oil until it’s RIPPIN’ HOT.  (That would be until the oil just barely starts to smoke.)  Place the chicken breast in the pan, skin-side down, and just let them brown.  Don’t turn them, don’t check them, don’t fuss with them at all for at least 5 minutes – probably closer to 10 minutes.

Trust me.

PhotobucketThen turn the breasts over and let them cook for another 5 minutes or so, while you admire the lovely browned skin – the  “presentation side.”

You’re not trying to completely cook this chicken through – just get a nice sear on it.

Then shove them, pan and all, in the oven.

Cast iron pans are so good that way.

PhotobucketLet the chicken bake until an instant-read thermometer registers 160° – this will take about 20-25 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a plate and tent –  cover loosely with foil.

Now put the pan back on the burner with about 1/2 cup of chicken stock – we used what was left of our Chinese stock (a lightly seasoned chicken and pork stock), which, while not absolutely correct, was certainly not bad at all.

Let the chicken stock reduce until it’s reduced by half.

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Meanwhile, divide the hazelnut-rosemary-salt among your plates.   Cover your nut  (heh) mixture with a chicken breast, then drizzle the reduced chicken stock over.

Okay, I’m just going to say – this was so incredibly flavorful – and so simple – it would be criminal not to do it again, and regularly.     It was a little on the salty side – we used a teaspoon of salt in the nut mixture AND salted the chicken. Next time, I’ll use a much lighter hand salting the chicken, or else use less salt in the hazelnut-rosemary mix.  Either way, it’s wonderfully chicken-y and earthy, with the crispy skin and the condensed sauce – and SO simple – almost STUPID easy!

Yeah, we’re so doing this again . . . next time chicken breasts are on sale for 99 cents a pound.  I’ve gotta cover my nut, you know.

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