Friday, November 22, 2013

Getting Back to Normal: Epicurean Butter and Pechugas de Pollo

Right in the middle of all the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest hoopla in the last few days prior to my departure for Vegas, I was invited to attend a luncheon at The Seasoned Chef Cooking School here in Denver.  It was a welcome distraction from all of my preparations and anticipation, and I was also very excited to learn about a local product.

The gathering was organized as a way to introduce bloggers, food writers and others affiliated with the food industry to Epicurean Butter. Epicurean butter is a line of grade AA butter that is infused with all natural ingredients resulting in compound butters that can instantly dress up the simplest of dishes.  Developed by Denver Chef John Hubschman, Epicurean Butter comes in 14 different flavors, in both sweet and savory varieties, and are intended to bring gourmet restaurant quality chef preparation to the home cook.

For our tasting luncheon, Chicago based Chef Julius Russell, owner of A Tale of Two Chefs, prepared a variety of dishes containing different flavors of Epicurean Butter for us to sample. These dishes ranged from a goat cheese bruschetta, sauteed shrimp, and roasted pork loin to a buttery cake crouton apple concoction that was indescribably delicious.  It was a tasty afternoon to say the least.

Now a couple of weeks later, all the dust has cleared from my trip and I'm settling back into my routine. I am ready to start creating, and all those tubs of butter waiting in my fridge have inspired me to get busy. We were given several recipes to try, but I cannot for the life of me put my hands on any of them. Makes me kind of wonder what went on around here while I was gone.

In the absence of those recipes, I decided to come up with something on my own. After tasting a couple of the butters I kept coming back to the chili lime. The subtle, fresh Mexican flavors reminded me of a dish that I loved and haven't had in a very long time.

Years ago there was a little Mexican restaurant in Houston that my posse and I used to frequent. On their menu they featured a grilled chicken breast entree complete with mushrooms, onions and a little bit of cheese all swimming in a tasty butter sauce that I absolutely loved.

This little restaurant simply called their dish pechugas de pollo.  After a little research I discovered that pechugas translates to "breasts" and pollo translates to "chicken", so you can obviously call any breast of chicken dish by this name if you want. I guess this leaves me wide open to do my own pechugas de pollo any way I like.

Since I wanted to really focus on the flavor of the butter, I simplified the ingredients for my pechugas. I used pan seared chicken and the flavored butter mixed with the pan juices to form the sauce. Really all you need is a perfectly cooked chicken breast and a dollop of this butter and there you go, the simple is turned into the sublime in just minutes, just as Chef Hubschman envisioned.

Pechugas de Pollo

2 medium size chicken breasts, approximately 6 -7 ounces each
Salt, pepper and garlic or your favorite seasoning blend to taste
1 - 2 tablespoons light olive or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Epicurean chili lime compound butter or 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and 1/8 teaspoon chili powder (mild or medium), plus 2 additional tablespoons for finishing dish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse and pat the chicken breasts dry. Place them between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound thicker end of breasts to even the thickness as much as possible.

Sprinkle both sides of the breasts liberally with salt, pepper and granulated garlic or seasoning blend; set aside.

Pour oil (enough to coat bottom) into a heat proof medium size frying pan (for this recipe I LOVE my cast iron skillet) set over medium high heat. Heat oil until it is shimmering. Add prepared breasts to hot pan and fry them on each side until golden brown.

Carefully transfer frying pan to the preheated oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes or so or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees and/or juices run clear. *If you feel that your chicken breasts are cooked through after browning them on top of the stove, you can omit this step if desired.

Remove pan from the oven and transfer chicken breasts to serving plates, cover, set aside and rest for 5 minutes.

While the breasts are resting, add the two tablespoons of Epicurean Butter (or plain butter, lime juice and chili powder) to the hot frying pan to deglaze it, scraping bits up off the bottom with a whisk or fork, being careful not to burn the butter. This should take just about a minute.

Pour equal amounts of the butter sauce over the top of the chicken breasts. Finish with an additional pat of butter and a sprinkling of chopped fresh cilantro if desired. I prefer serving my chicken breasts on a bed of rice to absorb the chicken flavors and butter.

This recipe serves 2, but is easily doubled.

I would also like to try changing this dish up sometime by replacing the chile lime flavor with Epicurean's Tuscan Herb Butter or the porcini and sage flavor and serving it over pasta.

Just because Epicurean Butter's home is in Colorado, doesn't mean it is only available in Colorado. Click here for a list of the many retailers that carry this product.  Don't see a retailer in your area? Epicurean Butter can also be ordered on line.

No comments: