Adventures in Southwest Cooking: Herbed Chicken with Huitlacoche Corn Salsa

I am embracing the fact the Santa Fe is not a temporary place of residence or a short-term clinical rotation for me, but my new home, a place where I actually live.  I have developed a routine here, made good friends, and equally important, I have developed a taste for New Mexican cuisine.

For Christmas I received a wonderful new cookbook... Santa Fe School of Cooking: Flavors of the Southwest.

As explained in the introduction of the book, “the mission of the Santa Fe School of Cooking has always been to celebrate and promote the rich historical traditions and food of Santa Fe and its surroundings.”  Santa Fean cuisine is truly a unique blend of Native American, Spanish, Mexican and Anglo cultures.  And what a delicious cuisine to celebrate!  In 2012, Santa Fe won the award for “America’s Best Food” from USA Today.

Paging through the book, I feel more than a little overwhelmed by the complexity of the recipes and my lack of familiarity with these ingredients, but I look forward to making my way through these amazing dishes.  My first new recipe: Herbed Chicken Breasts with Huitlacoche-Roasted Corn Salsa. 

The recipe features chicken breasts breaded with rosemary, garlic, and green chile powder, with a unique corn salsa flavored with huitlacoche.  Huitlacoche, I learned, is a black fungus that grows in kernels of corn.  It is considered a delicacy in many places in Mexico, but isn’t as widely appreciated in the U.S.

This recipe was relatively simple and very delicious!  The green chile powder and chipotles in adobo sauce provided a spicy flavor that wasn’t overwhelming.  I would call my first adventure in Southwest Cooking a success!

Huitlacoche-Roasted Corn Salsa

The flavors of a simple roasted chicken or filet of beef would be greatly enhanced by this rustic, flavorful addition.

Yield: 2-1/2 cups

3 ears of corn
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup diced white onion
2 cloves roasted garlic, very finely chopped
1 cup rich, full-bodied red wine (cabernet, merlot, pinot noir)
1/2 cup (4 ounces) canned or frozen huitlacoche
1 tablespoon juice from Chipotles en Adobo
2 teaspoons fresh epazote or 1 teaspoon dried
1/4 cup cilantro chiffonade
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Shuck the ears of corn and remove the silk. Roast the ears over direct flame, turning frequently, until blackened in places. Set aside. When the ears have cooled, cut the kernels from the cob and place them in a bowl. There should be about 1-1/2 cups.
2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium. Add the onion and sauté until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the roasted garlic and red wine, and reduce by half. Add the huitlacoche, chipotle juice and epazote and continue to cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for 8 to 10 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and cool.
3. Add the roasted corn kernels and the cilantro to the "dry" mixture and stir to combine well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


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