Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cooking with Beer: Chicken

March ends on an up note with one last beer braised dinner for early Spring.  Either chicken breasts or thighs are fine for this.  Go with skinless since the cooked chicken will want to nestle into a tortilla or become a spicy chicken salad after it is shredded gently with a fork.  Use cuts on or off the bone, just remember the bone does add flavor to the cooking broth. 

Chicken Cooked in Beer
3 servings, easily doubled
Ingredients
2 large skinless chicken breasts (or 4 thighs)
1 cup beer
1 cup chicken broth
olive oil for browning
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
dash cayenne (up to 1/8 teaspoon)
salt and pepper

Method
  1. Salt and pepper skinless chicken breasts.  
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown chicken in a bit of olive oil on both sides.  
  3. Drain any excess oil.  Lower heat and add 1 cup beer and 1 cup chicken broth to skillet.  
  4. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon cumin and a dash of cayenne.  
  5. Cover skillet and simmer on very low heat for 30 minutes.  Chicken will be very tender and pull apart easy with a fork.  Continue cooking another 5-10 minutes if needed.  
Serve with roasted jalepeno peppers, sliced avocado, a scattering of black beans and a dollop of sour cream in a warm flour tortilla. 

Spicy Beer Chicken Salad
To make rough-chopped, spicy chicken salad, let chicken fully cool in the broth.  When cool, remove chicken pieces from broth and shred with a fork or chop into bite-sized pieces and place in a medium bowl. To the bowl, add the flesh of 1 avocado, roughly chopped, a large bunch of fresh, chopped cilantro (about 1/4 cup chopped), 1 chopped tomato plus 1 tablespoon good quality olive oil (try Goya), the juice of 1/2 lime and 1 squirt of hot sauce (like Cholula brand).  Taste for seasoning and add a bit of salt and pepper,  more hot sauce or a touch more lime juice as desired.  Serve in a roll, warm pita pocket or over chopped lettuce.  Sliced black olives, pickled jalepenos, chopped scallions—all nice garnishes.