Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cumin Roasted Chicken with Cucumber Salsa over Cracked Wheat Pilaf

Derek and I made this fresh, seasonal dinner using ingredients from the farmers market and our gardens.  Making it with two people is a big help because one can focus on the chicken while the other works on the pilaf.  He was in charge of the chicken with cucumber salsa, while I experimented with cracked wheat for the first time. 
Cracked wheat is similar to bulgur wheat in that they are both made by cracking the whole wheat kernel, but bulgur wheat is steamed and toasted before cracking, whereas cracked wheat is not.  Both bulgur wheat and cracked wheat are more nutrient dense than many other grains, as the nutrients and fiber of the wheat germ and bran are not removed.  But it's not just the nutrient breakdown that made us want to try experimenting with cracked wheat more in the future...  it's the nutty flavor and light texture that will make it a staple in our kitchens from now on.  

For the Chicken:
-2 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin on
-2 Tbsp butter
-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 1/2 tsp chili powder
-1 tsp cumin
-1/4 tsp paprika
-salt and pepper to taste

->Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Melt butter (about 10 seconds in the microwave should do it).  Whisk in spices with a fork.  It should be a brownish liquid at this point.  Rub this butter mixture under the chicken skin and all over the outside.  Place chicken in shallow baking dish.  Bake until golden brown and juices run clear.  

For the cucumber salsa:
-1 cucumber, finely chopped
-1/2 large tomato, chopped
-1 red pepper, chopped
-1/4 of a medium sweet onion, finely chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-chopped cilantro
-juice of one lime
-salt and pepper

->  Combine all vegetables in a mixing bowl.  Add cilantro and lime juice and season with salt and pepper.  

For the Cracked Wheat Pilaf:
-2 c cracked wheat
-2 tsp cumin
-1 tsp coriander 
-4 c water or broth
-salt and pepper
-juice of one lemon
-olive oil
-1 medium zucchini, grated
-1 red pepper, finely chopped
-1/2 large tomato, chopped
-salt and pepper

->  Toast cracked wheat in a dry skillet over medium heat until it gives off a nutty aroma.  Add spices, and allow to toast with wheat until aromatic.  Add water or broth.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat, simmering approximately 15 minutes.  Do not stir or peak.  Remove from heat when all water is absorbed, still not stirring.  Place a dish towel between the lid and pan, to form a tight seal.  Allow to rest 5 minutes.  Add lemon juice and a good drizzle of olive oil.  Fluff with a fork.  Add chopped vegetables and season with salt and pepper.  Top with cilantro.  
-->Serve chicken on a bed of the cracked wheat pilaf and top with cucumber salsa.  Enjoy!
~*TIP:  Chop up any leftover chicken after dinner and mix with leftover cracked wheat and salsa for a delicious cold cracked wheat and chicken salad for lunch the next day.  Mmmm.  *~

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