Thursday, 27 November 2008

Chicken Nuggets Mexican

NAME: _Chicken Nuggets Mexican

(Approximate for one person, scale to suit size of party.)
chicken meat (you may use dark or white, about one breast's worth per person.)
1/2 carrot
1/2 green capsicum
1/2 jalapeno pepper
1/2 medium onion
1/2 tsp dried crushed chilli
1 clove garlic
1/2 a ripe to overripe tomato
1tsp tomato paste
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp anatto seeds (or turmeric, it's for colour)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup white corn meal (see notes)
1 tbsp cornflour
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 - 2 tbsp EVOO
rice, around 1/2 cup (dry) per person

Prepare your dusting meal - in a rocket blender or similar, place the dried chilli, the anatto seeds (or turmeric) and about half the salt, whiz to powder. Add the corn meal and blend together. This gets used for several things so set it aside now.

Chop the chicken into approximately 2cm (1") cubes, place in a plastic bag.  Start the rice cooking - add about one cup of water per half cup of rice, a pinch of salt, and once it boils, reduce the heat to a simmer, then later when almost all the water is absorbed, switch off the heat, cover with a lid and let stand while other things are being prepared.

Cut the carrot and capsicum and jalapeno pepper into 5cm (2") strips a bit larger than julienne.  Cut the onion lengthways to same width, and cut the garlic into fine straws, as fine as possible.

Quarter the tomato, place it, the lime juice, the tomato paste, the remaining salt, and the chicken stock into the blender and blend all to liquid, seeds skin and all.

Start about half the olive oil in a good heavy frypan, while it is heating put about 1/2 the dusting meal in the plastic bag with the chicken and shake to coat the pieces.  You may add a bit more dusting meal if needed, but you need about 1/4 of the mixture for the veges.  Place the chicken pieces in the hot oil and let sit for about five minutes on medium high, then toss to turn over all pieces.  Leave for another five minutes.  The nuggets should all be golden and lightly browned.  Scoop them out and place on paper towel to drain.

Add some of the leftover dusting meal (it should be around 1/4 of the initial amount) to the cornflour and mix together well.  (Or blend together.)

Add the strips of vegetables and enough oil to ensure the vegetables are all coated in oil.  Toss a few times, until things are sizzling, then dust some of the cornflour mixture over the vegetables and toss, keep adding dusting mix and tossing until all vegetables are well coated and a bit of flour is loose in the pan.  Keep frying and tossing the vegetables until the cornmeal and cornflour start to smell like tortilla chips, then slowly add the tomato mixture until the cornflour and corn meal start to thicken.  The idea here is to almost embed the vegetables in a corn fritter, not make a liquid sauce, and get the vegetables with "just-cooked" texture, i.e. not too soft.

Serve rice to one side, vegetables to other side, chicken nuggets between, maybe with a few pickled jalapeno peppers.  Best served immediately so the nuggets and vegetables aren't soggy.

I haven't tried this with fine polenta, it may work or it may not.  White corn meal is like a rough grade of wheat flour, and the flavour is just right, polenta might be a bit overpowering.

As far as I know this isn't any official Mexican recipe, I just wanted something that looked and tasted the part.  beware of over-salting this - it's easy to do as there's some salt in the dusting flour and then a bit more in the sauce and (usually) more in the chicken stock.  You may be able to serve this over corn chips a la nachos style, I just wanted rice in the meal too.  If doing nachos style forget the avocado but some sour cream would go nicely.  Don't microwave it over the chips though cos that will make the nuggets and vegetables soggy.

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