Before we go any further, head over to Chilefire and read this recipe for Shrimp with Red Chile and Piñon Nuts....I'll wait for you.....ok, welcome back!
I saw this recipe when our cookie winner, Mr. Chilefire, posted on his blog about making a quick lunch during a busy weekend. The dish looked really good and I loved the idea of making it into a quick taco...I knew I wanted to try it out sometime and I decided that last night would be the night experiment.
Ooops, I didn't really have all that I needed to follow the recipe as is and had no desire to go out. (Shrimp, Cilantro, Cream, or that particular chile powder)
But, I did have a few frozen chicken 'tenders,' a few pine nuts, a different type of chile powder and chili powder. OK, why not, let's give this a shot.
I quickly thawed the chicken (four chicken tenders) and chopped it up in to very thing, small pieces, set those aside.
I had a few pine nuts, but not many, so I poured in what I had and added a small quantity of slivered almonds. I toasted those as described in the recipe.
I added the minced garlic. I had a low quantity of the nuts, so the oil from them was nil, so I had to quickly add in some olive oil to prevent the garlic from burning. After about 30 seconds, I tossed in the chicken and started sauteing that. I threw in a pinch of salt.
When the chicken was nearly cooked through, I added 1/2 a tsp of chili powder and 1/2 tsp of ancho chile powder. Stirred this in to incorporate. I had to add another little touch of oil to get it all to work together. If I remember from my Alton Brown education, spices like the chiles "bloom" in hot oil and the flavors really coming out, so the little extra oil really helps the flavor.
I let that go about two to three minutes on medium low heat.
In the mean time I threw two tortillas on the stove to warm them up.
To finish off, I added about 1/2 a tsp of honey, per the recipe, to finish the dish off.
I had no cream, so when I removed the chicken/nut combo off the heat, I stirred in a little sour cream. Dump into a tortilla, roll up and YUM!
I really liked this dish!!
1st) The chicken was a good substitute, but I can't wait to try this with shrimp, I'm sure it's great.
2nd) The texture of the meat and the nuts was great. I thought I disliked pine nuts for a long time until I tried this veggie dish at Coppi's and found I really liked them as an ingredient. The obvious nuttiness and the crunch. I also enjoyed the almonds, but their was no real change in flavor as far as I could tell. But it might be a nice option to help cut back on the amount of pine nuts, that can be a little pricey depending on where you get them.
3rd) The chili/chile. With the varieties I used I was suprised by the mild 'heat' levels. It appears at first glance that this is going to be a spicy hot dish, but it was incredibly mild and flavorful.
4th) I didn't have the cream, so I used the sour cream. I think it could be used as just a garnish and you can skip the cream altogether, but having not had it that way, I shouldn't judge yet.
5th) As I recently (last few years) discovered that I do love cilantro, I wish I would have had some to brighten up the whole thing at the end, but again didn't have it and it was still good.
Bravo Chilefire on this recipe and hope you don't mind the alterations I took. Someone recently had a post on recipe variations....Oh, I HATE BROCCOLI....I think this certainly falls into this category and also falls into the "what to make for dinner, but don't have all the ingredients" category.