Friday, October 21, 2016

Mahogany Chicken with Smoky Lime Sweet Potatoes

Last Year's Post:  Grain Bowls with Halloumi Cheese
Two Years Ago:   Korean Sliders

This recipe won the $100,000 first prize for National Chicken Cooking Contest a few years back, which says something.  Not only that, the woman who created it - Camilla Saulsbury - also won a $50,000 national burger contest, a Food Network $25,000 Recipe Showdown, and a $5,000 Top Chefs desserts challenge.  Apparently she knows what she's doing.  She once said that she felt her greatest strength was being able to envision flavors that will go together well, and it's very evident in this dish.  There's richness and complexity in the chicken basting sauce, and smokiness, cumin and lime in the sweet potatoes.  On top of that there's a bright finishing sauce of olive oil, garlic and cilantro.  The overall result is a complex and completely delicious dish.  One bite and I knew why this recipe won.  I loved it, and I don't normally even like sweet potatoes.

The actual title of her recipe is"Mahogany Broiled Chicken with Smoky Lime Sweet Potatoes and Cilantro Chimichurri" if you want to look it up; I shortened the name for simplicity but didn't change the recipe.  My guess is that she broiled the chicken because the contest rules might not have allowed for grilling, but my first thought was to grill the chicken and it came out great.  My other suggestion is to go easy on the garlic in the cilantro sauce until you taste it because raw garlic is pretty strong, especially if you're serving it to kids.  The chipotle and adobo are both in such small amounts that they add a very nice smokiness without being hot; if you like spicy food you may want to add a little bit more.  I personally thought it was perfect.

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Mahogany Chicken with Smoky Lime Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4

1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon pepper, divided
5 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup plus 1 ½ teaspoons lime juice, divided
1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1” cubes
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2” pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon chopped canned chipotle pepper
1 teaspoon adobo sauce (from canned chipotle)
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon lime zest
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

In a small bowl, mix together chopped cilantro, olive oil, minced garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together brown sugar, mustard, hoisin sauce and vinegar.  Reserve 2/3 of this mixture for basting.  To remainder, add ½ cup lime juice and stir in chicken; cover and refrigerate.

Place sweet potatoes in a heavy saucepan filled with boiling water.  Cook, covered, over medium-high heat until tender, about 15 minutes.  Reserve ¼ cup cooking liquid, then drain potatoes and return to the pot with the reserved cooking water.  Add butter, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, remaining 1 ½ teaspoons lime juice, cumin, lime zest, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Mash potatoes.

Preheat the broiler.  Thread chicken on bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water for 30 minutes.  Broil about 6 inches from heat, basting with reserved sauce until done, about 8 minutes. 

To serve, divide potatoes among plates and top with chicken skewers.  Drizzle with cilantro sauce and garnish with cilantro sprigs.

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