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Chicken with Romesco Sauce

September 1, 2009

Bread and Romesco Sauce Marinated Chicken

I came across this recipe on Sunset — a favorite source for recipes. I wasn’t sure how I’d like it given that many things with red bell peppers tend to be too sweet for me. However, this is definitely a keeper despite the somewhat labor intesive process. One of my friends who was over for dinner the night I made it claimed it was the best thing I’d ever made (and she comes down for dinner frequently).

The Romesco Sauce is primarily flavored by the roasted bell peppers that get pureed. But what caught my eye as unusual for a sauce was the crust bread cubes that also got thrown into the food processor with the other ingredients. The last key ingredient was roasted almonds and hazelnuts. Believe it or not, they really do add a noticeable nutty-ness to the sauce. Obviously, there are other things that go into this sauce, but to me these are the three main ingredients.

As for the grilled chicken, it is soaked in a lovely marinade that I’ll provide below and then grilled. The recipe calls for everything to be skewered, but I just cut the chicken into chunks and grilled it on our cast iron grill pan since I’m not allowed to have a barbecue where I’m living right now (sad I know…).

Finally, I finished this meal off with a buttery bowl of cous-cous and sauteed onions.

My writing does not begin to describe how wonderful this tasted when it all came together. Just trust me and give it a go!

Ingredients

  • 2  pounds  boned, skinned chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-in. cubes
  • 1/2  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2  cup  extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lime juice
  • 2  teaspoons  plus 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1  teaspoon  coarse kosher salt
  • 1  teaspoon  smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 fresh red bell peppers,  peeled and roasted (or 3/4 cup canned — I’ve never tried it this way)
  • 1/4  cup  whole almonds or hazelnuts, toasted (I usually use a mix of the two)
  • 1  slice crusty bread, toasted and cut into cubes
  • 1  tablespoon  sherry vinegar


Procedure

  1. In a large bowl, combine chicken, cilantro, 3 tbsp. olive oil, lime juice, 2 tsp. garlic, salt, smoked paprika, and pepper. Toss to coat, then marinate, chilled for at least 25 minutes.
  2. Put roasted peppers, nuts, bread, vinegar, remaining 1 tbsp. minced garlic, and 1/4 cup olive oil in food processor and whirl until puréed. You should be left with a fairly thick sauce.
  3. Grill the chicken and serve with the sauce.  I often make couscous to go with this dish and serve the remainder of the loaf of crusty bread along side for soaking up left over sauce.
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