Tuesday, March 1, 2011

#167 - Speculoos Chicken & Kamut Spaghetti With Two Wines

Until a week ago, I hadn't heard of two of the words in the title of today's post.

Speculoos, maybe. Might have guessed some weird German cookie. Or the name of a character in Flash Gordon. Kamut? Maybe the name of some ruthless or inept Ottoman sultan.

Mrs. Ney ran across a recipe in Around My French Table a couple of months ago that called for French cinnamon Christmas-ish cookies to be made with chicken. The recipe labels itself as a good example of inventive French home cooking where you sometimes have to get inventive and use what you have on hand.

For us, it was too weird not to try.

Food: Speculoos chicken with Kamut spaghetti mixed with Brussels sprouts and pancetta

Speculoos (or speculaas) cookies are little shortcrust biscuits flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and white pepper that are traditionally eaten in the Netherlands and Belgium on St. Nicholas Eve (thank you, Wikipedia!).

Kamut is the brand name of Khorasan wheat, but like Kleenex, has become synonymous with the grain, apparently. It's old, Persian and kinda delicious; an intensely rich, nutty and wheaty pasta that is LOADED with fiber (trust me) and protein and just about everything else your body wants.

For example, I had about a cup's worth of Kamut spaghetti in this meal. Nutritionally, that's 12 grams of fiber (48% of DV), 20 grams of protein (40% DV), 3 grams of fat, 30% of the daily value of iron, thiamin, niacin, magnesium and zinc and 50% of the daily value of phosphorus.

From the spaghetti alone. Cripes! And it doesn't taste "healthy" at all. First bite was a bit weird as it's intensely wheaty but then it becomes kinda delicious and wanted. Harvestime Foods has started to carry a lot more organic products so Mrs. Ney bought a box to, you know, support such efforts.

To the actual meal. Chicken breasts seared in butter and olive oil. Two cups chicken stock reduced down to a quarter cup (not in the recipe). All that mixed with eight speculoos cookies mashed up and mixed with about a cup of crème fraiche.

Yep. That's the recipe. Crème fraiche with cinnamon-like cookies put over chicken.

And it wasn't too shabby at all. Boatload of dairy that won't make us crave it on a regular basis but we'd eat it again. Tasted like it was advertised. Home cooking concoction made in a pinch that turned into something that stood the test of time. Church cookbook food except actually tasty and interesting.

Kamut spaghetti mixed with Brussels sprouts, shallots and pancetta as a side dish. Also a touch weird at first but quickly wandered into the realm of delicious. Wheat, greens, fat and fiber (trust me) in one small, yet intense package.

For a meal with no expectations outside of getting a curiosity out of the way, we liked pretty much all of what it offered.

Wine: NV Cantina del Taburno Falanghina Extra Brut Spumante ($20 - Fine Wine Brokers) & Seedling Hard Cider ($13 - WDC)

Read the previous post for information on the Taburno Falanghina Sparkling. Liked it so much we wanted to have it again. Soon.

The Seedling Hard Cider deserves attention. It's $13, slightly sparkling, refreshing as all get-out, even somewhat complex and worth every penny. Only about 7% ABV. Apples dominate, of course, but it's more apple orchardy than just apples. Tastes like everything an apple orchard is, all the tastes and smells, rather than simply drinking alcoholic apple juice. Good stuff.

Pairing: 82 Falanghina played along but not much enhancement overall

The Taburno remained itself in admirable ways, offering its cinnamon oil and peach pit-like flavors that fit nicely into cinnamon cookie chicken. Even a wee hint of cream on the finish played nicely with the crème fraiche. But everything was more about flavors running parallel with each other, remaining their delicious selves, than any real enhancement.

Often, that's fine, good, nice enough and more than probably should be asked for because I have no freakin' idea what other wine we could have drunk with cinnamon cookie chicken and got a better result.

The hard cider came off flat with the chicken, serviceable with the pasta-Brussel sprouts-pancetta mixture and not particularly needed overall. Better by itself in every respect.

Odd night of food.

And in the end, entirely interesting.

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