I’m not quite sure how this happened, but somehow I’ve found myself without a single green vegetable at home. No spinach, no lettuce, no baby spring mix. Not even a single green pea can be found in my refrigerator, and that is a very strange, evil thing for me. Over the years it’s gotten so that I don’t feel I’ve had a complete meal unless some green leafy vegetable on my plate. It’s not quite as bad as my tomato worship, but it does make me get a little anxious, like I’m going to be missing something major in the way of nutrition if I skip a day of greens.
Faced with this dilemma and a hungry appetite last night – not to mention a pretty barren fridge – I decided I would have to get uber creative, no matter how lazy I felt because of the 100-degree weather. I had some dried wild mushrooms from TJ’s that I was going to use in a pasta dish, but the near-perfect chicken breasts I had scored at last week were calling to me as well, so I figured I’d put the two together. Then my eyes fell upon the can of chipotle peppers in adobo that I had also gotten (for a phenomenal price) at La Superior. I started to think: could I? Could I make these two very different foods work together? Since I wasn’t cooking for guests or anything, I decided now was the time to take some major experimental action.
This turned out better than I expected it to. Truthfully, I haven’t cooked with whole chipotle peppers before (I’ve used their adobo but that’s about it), so I had to play around with the flavoring & heat scale before I was satisfied with the result. Fortunately, chipotles are right on the Hot Enough point of the KimberHeat scale, so I felt I’d be okay with a couple of the peppers’ seeds and veins here & there. Unless you’re a true spicy food afficionado, I recommend deveining as many of the peppers as possible, lest you overwhelm your tongue and palate with heat and miss the other flavors. Interestingly enough, the smokiness of the chipotle peppers combined with their tangy adobo goes really well with the woodsy flavors of the wild mushrooms. Though this might work just fine with regular white mushrooms, I’d recommend nothing more “normal” than a portabello or crimini mushroom for this dish; I think the chipotle peppers would be too much for a regular mushroom. If you’re using dried wild mushrooms, follow the hydrating instructions on the package as closely as possible to ensure that you have the most flavorful, tender mushrooms possible.
A couple of other things to note: Be sure not to overcook your chicken breasts so that they’re not tough and dry. Part of the beauty of this dish, aside from it’s amazingly full, spicy flavors, is the tenderness of the chicken. It’s easier to appreciate the sauce and mushrooms when you’re eating juicy chicken rather than a piece of cardboard. Lastly, don’t be intimidated by this recipe (someone at work told me it looked like it was “too restaurant-y”, ergo, too much work). It’s slmost embarrassing how easy this is to prepare! Just arrange it nicely on your plates and it’ll look like you slaved for hours.
PS – This is NOT for the faint of heart or palate! Definitely serve this with some rice to help with the heat of this dish. If you are sensitive to spicy foods, stay away from this one, or add more broth & cream to even out the heat. Otherwise, the spicier the better!
Chicken in Chipotle-Wild Mushroom Sauce (serves 4; total cost per serving: ~ $2.50)
1/2 12 oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo
4 oz. wild mushrooms (or crimini/portabello)
2 T heavy whipping cream
4 T olive oil, divided
1/3 – 1/2 c low sodium chicken broth
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 t ground cumin
Salt & pepper to taste
Cilantro sprigs for garnish
Remove all of the chipotle peppers and reserve as much of the adobo as possible in a medium bowl. Take about 1/2 the peppers and cut in half lengthwise. Remove as much of the veins and seeds as possible, and chop the peppers into 1/2″ pieces. Add to the reserved adobo. Lightly season the chicken breasts on both sides with the salt, pepper, and cumin. Heat 2 T olive oil in a large skillet. Place the chicken breasts in the skillet and cook over medium high heat for about 3 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and set aside on a covered plate.
In the same skillet, heat the remaining olive oil and garlic over medium heat. Add the mushrooms with just a dash of salt & pepper, and sautee for about 2 minutes. Add the chipotle peppers and adobo and stir together. Remove about half of the mushroom & pepper mixture with its liquid, place in a blender or food processor, add the cream and 1/3 c chicken broth, and puree with a hand blender until smooth. In the meantime, return the chicken breasts to the skillet with the remaining chipotle peppers and mushrooms, cover, and allow to cook for about 4 more minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink on the inside (but not dry).
Arrange your chicken breasts on a large dish. Spoon the mushroom & chipotle pepper mixture on top of the chicken, followed by a couple generous spoonfuls of the creamy sauce, garnish with a couple sprigs of cilantro, and enjoy!