Happy (almost) Saint Patrick’s Day! In honor of the event, I’m presenting an Irish dish based on one from Margaret Johnson’s The New Irish Table, which highlights the best of contemporary Irish cooking (and believe me, it’s good). As of this moment I have ten stickies inserted in that book, marking recipes I want to try.
I love the contrast of flavors in this one—a little sweet, a little tart—and the vivid color.
You make the sauce first:
2 red bell peppers (sweet peppers), seeded and halved
½ cup dry white wine
2 Tblsp white vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 cup heavy cream
Dash of salt (to taste)
Preheat your broiler. Put the peppers in a baking pan skin-side up. Set the pan about 6” below the flame and cook until the peppers are soft and the skin is loose (about ten minutes). Remove the pan from the oven and put the peppers into a closed paper bag until cool. The skin should rub off easily then (you hope—my peppers didn’t want to cooperate so it took a bit longer). Cut the peppers into pieces (they don’t have to be tidy—you’re going to puree the sauce anyway).
|A pair of peeled peppers|
In a small saucepan (not aluminum), combine the peppers, wine and vinegar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 5-8 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the sugar and cream and cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and process until the sauce is smooth (you can strain it if you like). Taste and add salt if needed. Set aside. (This can be done well in advance.)
|Pureed pepper sauce|
1/4 cup goat cheese (room temperature) blended with 1 Tblsp light olive oil
1 Tblsp cream cheese (room temperature)
3 Tblsp minced fresh basil or chives
1 Tblsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir to blend.
The original recipe says to carefully insert this tasty paste under the skin of each breast. Since all the chicken breasts in my market are gigantic, I found it easier to make a pocket in each and stuff the cheese mixture in, securing the stuffing with a toothpick or two.
2 Tblsp melted unsalted butter
1 tsp minced or crushed garlic
1 tsp coarse salt
Combine the melted butter, the garlic and the salt and brush over the chicken breasts.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the chicken pieces in a shallow ovenproof casserole dish. Bake until cooked through and the top is browned (this will depend on the size of the chicken pieces—mine took about 45 minutes, and were still nice and moist).
While the chicken is cooking, reheat the pepper sauce over low heat. To serve, place a chicken breast on the center of a plate and spoon the sauce over the top. Serve with mashed or boiled potatoes.
It’s not green, but it sure tastes good!
Lá Shona Fhéile Pádraig!
And if you've after some Irish reading,
might I suggest