Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Emergency Substitution! Paprika Chicken with Spicy Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce

I had one of those nights where I got too focused on a project at work and the next thing I know, it's 8:30pm and I'm way behind on my schedule of getting home and getting dinner on the table. Earlier in the evening (in a moment of distraction) I had been playing with the Epicurious Widget on my Facebook profile and found a recipe for Sea Bass with Spicy Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce. I had some sea bass that I had bought on special over the weekend thawing at home, so this simple recipe of pan sautèed fish with a sauce of almonds, roasted peppers and cayenne seemed to be a quick and elegant way to do a late dinner.

As I rushed home to find a starving J the BF writhing on the sofa, I went to the fridge to pull out the fish only to find it was still frozen hard as a rock despite the chance to relax in the fridge all day. I offered to try to nuke-thaw it, but J advised against the danger of destroying a $20 piece of fish. I reached for a couple of nice frozen chicken breasts instead.

I then went to pull together what I needed for the sauce. I had roasted almonds so I threw those in a pan to toast. I know that I did not have any fresh red bells, but I had a huge jar of fire roasted red bell pepper strips which I knew would do just as well as a fresh roasted pepper. Tomato paste, on the other hand was a problem. I thought for sure there was an orphan can of the stuff in my cabinet but I was proven wrong. {Insert series of expletives here}

I pulled myself together and thought creatively - what could take the place of tomato paste in a spicy red sauce - ketchup? No, too sweet and runny. Canned diced tomatoes? No, not the right consistency. I ended up subbing in a few table spoons of sweet chili sauce (tomato based). The sauce, after some tweaking turned out more than palatable.

The chicken needed more help as the original recipe leveraged just salt and pepper seasoning for the assertively flavored sea bass. To bring the nuke-thawed chicken to live, I sprinkled it with sea salt and a generous amount of smoked paprika. In the end, I think I had a totally different recipe, but it was much enjoyed in my house. Here is roughly what the recipe was after I screwed with it.:

3/4 cup fire-roasted jarred red bell pepper strips - drained well
1/4 cup roasted almonds - lightly toasted
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Sweet Tomato Chili Sauce (like Heinz brand)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 6-8oz Boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 TBS Smoked Spanish Paprika
Fine Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 TBS Olive Oil

Place first 6 ingredients into food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and generous amounts of paprika on both sides.

Heat 1 TBS Olive Oil in 12-inch non-stick pan over med -high heat

Cook chicken in hot pan 5 - 7 minutes per side until done

Serve chicken with 1 Tbsp of red pepper sauce over top with extra on the side.

This went well with a side of good quality cooked truffle pasta tossed with butter, freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano, salt and pepper and a mixed green salad with a fresh honey Dijon vinaigrette.

No comments: