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QUICK FIX

The Great Pistachio Bird

September 23, 1998|ANDY BRODER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Simple meals don't have to be plain, flavorless or familiar. Sometimes a couple of new ingredients are all you need to turn a staple like chicken into a new "specialty" of your house.

Chicken with a pistachio crust makes a rich and toasty dinner. The currant glaze beneath the toasted nuts adds a sweet nuance to the dish. The combination is a wonderfully unexpected blend of flavors.

Serve the chicken with spiced carrots. The aromas of nuts and spices will fill your kitchen, creating a sense of anticipation for the meal to come. Best of all, this simple meal satisfies the need for something "special" in a big way. You might want to add salad greens and a vinaigrette.

Sparkling water with a slice of orange--or a nice glass of Merlot--will satisfy your thirst and enhance the meal.

For dessert, try a scoop of store-bought lemon sorbet topped with fresh raspberries.

Menu

Currant-Glazed Chicken With Pistachio Crust

Spiced Carrots

Lemon Sorbet With Raspberries

CURRANT-GLAZED CHICKEN WITH PISTACHIO CRUST

1/4 cup currant jelly

Salt, pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 to 3/4 cup shelled pistachio nuts, unsalted (or lightly salted)

* Heat currant jelly in mixing bowl for 30 seconds on high in microwave oven (or heat over medium heat in small pan, then place in bowl). Remove and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add enough salt so that it tastes a little salty.

* Toss chicken breasts in seasoned jelly to thoroughly coat.

* Process pistachio nuts in food processor to a cornmeal consistency (or hand-chop with knife or mezzaluna). Do not over-process.

* Coat jelly-covered chicken breasts with nuts, shaking off any excess.

* Bake at 350 degrees on lightly greased baking sheet until juices run clear when pierced, 18 to 20 minutes.

4 servings. Each serving: 297 calories; 185 mg sodium; 99 mg cholesterol; 10 grams fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 43 grams protein; 0.30 gram fiber.

SPICED CARROTS

1 pound frozen sliced carrots

3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon ginger

Dash cinnamon

Dash nutmeg

Salt, pepper

* Thaw carrots in microwave (follow package instructions).

* Melt butter in skillet and add sugar, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.

* Toss carrots in spiced butter over medium heat and cook just until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir frequently.

* Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4 servings. Each serving: 125 calories; 142 mg sodium; 23 mg cholesterol; 9 grams fat; 11 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 1.22 grams fiber.

COUNTDOWN

30 minutes before: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Warm currant jelly in the microwave and season with salt and pepper.

28 minutes before: Coat chicken breasts with seasoned jelly.

25 minutes before: Chop pistachios in food processor.

23 minutes before: Coat chicken breasts with chopped nuts.

20 minutes before: Begin baking chicken.

18 minutes before: Thaw carrots in the microwave.

15 minutes before: Melt butter in saute pan, and begin to cook carrots.

10 minutes before: While chicken cooks, you can get most of the kitchen cleaned.

2 minutes before: Season the carrots with salt and pepper. Remove chicken from oven and let stand at room temperature 90 seconds before serving.

INGREDIENTS

Shopping List

1 (1-pound) bag frozen sliced carrots

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

1 small jar currant jelly

1/2 pound unsalted or lightly salted pistachio nuts, shelled

****

Staples

Butter

Cinnamon

Ground ginger

Ground nutmeg

Pepper

Salt

Sugar

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