|Sweet with a bite: Ginger-Pistachio Encrusted Chicken|
Until I began writing a weekly food column in late 2003, my flavor pairings were predictable and bland.
I liked classic dishes with some sort of twist, but I was never very adventurous in the kitchen. My husband is a culinary purist, for one thing, and he expects certain dishes to taste the way they always taste.
But food writers received feature packets from savvy agencies and McCormick Spices had one of the best. I looked forward to McCormick's annual flavor forecast, which taught me how to pair seemingly conflicting flavors to produce a fantastic burst of taste.
This dish pairs crystallized ginger with salted pistachios in a crunchy covering. A splash of honey-tangerine sauce adds a finishing touch.
Ginger-Pistachio Encrusted Chicken with Tangerine Sauce
- 3/4 cup shelled salted pistachio nuts
- 1/4 cup crystallized ginger
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup tangerine or orange juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
Dip chicken in egg whites and roll in pistachio-ginger mixture. Coat evenly. Place in shallow, foil-lined or greased oven dish. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.
While the chicken is cooking, blend orange juice, honey and soy sauce. The recipes recommends pouring the sauce before serving. I thought it was a bit thin, so I poured in on the chicken about 5 minute or so before I removed it from the oven. The heat will thicken the sauce.
“Oh my,” said my husband. “This is good. Sweetness with bite.”
Plain Vichy carrots, cooked with just sugar and water, were the perfect side dish. For dessert: Baked pear, flavored with brown sugar and cinnamon, topped with roasted walnuts, and finished with a dollop of mascarpone cheese sweetened with orange honey.
It was, we agreed, the perfect mid-winter meal, with just a hint of spring.