Bam! That’s some good chicken

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 7, 2012

My daughter and I talk about food quite a lot, and she said she remembers a chicken dish I did years ago that was so good. We remember it being stuffed with goat cheese and some other things, but I could not put my finger on the right recipe. In Wilmington, this week, I scanned my cookbooks, and realized it was an Emeril recipe from his cookbook nearly 20 years ago. My daughter has a good memory!

Emeril is quite famous now as we all know, but he got his beginnings at Commander’s Palace when Ella Brennan called him to cook in 1983. Emeril had gone to Johnson and Wales University, a prestigious school specializing in the culinary arts, had done his requisite trip through Europe, with an emphasis on France. He stayed at Commander’s Palace for seven and a half years before opening his own restaurant in 1990, called Emeril’s Restaurant. I remember Commander’s at that time as being some of its best years.

When he opened his restaurant in 1990, he promised himself he would only use the freshest, top-quality products in every dish. He was HOT for homemade; so many of the condiments and other food products such as goat cheese, Worcestershire sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, tasso, andouille sausage and seasonings are made at the restaurant.

He has opened many other restaurants since 1990 and has many other cookbooks, plus TV shows and his own cookware brand. I think this cookbook, Emeril’s New Orleans Cooking, published in 1993, is one of his best. He explains his sauces and stocks and gives good advice for every recipe. Try this chicken pocket recipe and your guests or family will be really impressed with the presentation and taste.


Chicken Pockets Stuffed with Goat Cheese, Chorizo and Pine Nuts on a Bed of Southern-Style Black-Eyed Peas

Makes 4 main-course servings

8 ounces (1 cup) chopped chorizo, the casings removed and discarded

4 ounces (1½ cup) goat cheese, such as Montrachet

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

3 tablespoons chopped green onions

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon salt

3 turns freshly ground black pepper

3 cups Southern-Style black-eyed peas (Recipe below). They are in locally.

4 skinned and boned chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each), pounded very thin

4 teaspoons Emeril’s Creole Seasoning (I used whatever Creole Seasoning I had on hand)

2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Combine the chorizo, goat cheese, pine nuts, green onions, garlic, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix until thoroughly blended. Makes 1½ cups of stuffing.

Prepare the black-eyed peas.

Spread the chicken breasts on a flat surface and sprinkle each, top side only, with ½ teaspoon Creole Seasoning. Place a heaping 1/3 cup of the stuffing on half of each chicken breast and fold the other half over the stuffing and pinch the edges together. Brush the tops with the oil, using ½ teaspoon on each, and sprinkle each with ½ teaspoon of the remaining Creole Seasoning.

Place the pockets on the baking sheet and bake until the chicken is golden brown, for about 18 minutes.

To serve, spread ¾ cup of the black-eyed peas on each of four plates, and top with one chicken pocket.


Southern-Style Black-EyeD Peas

Makes 3 cups

1 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup chopped onions

2 ounces (¼ cup) chopped tasso or other spiced ham

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1¼ cups dried black-eye peas (You can use fresh right now; just adjust the cooking time.)

1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning

4 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon salt

Heat the oil in a saucepan over high heat. Add the onions and sauté for one minute. Add the tasso, garlic, peas. Add Creole Seasoning and stir-fry for one minute.

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Uncover, stir once, re-cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the salt, stir, cover again, and simmer for a final 10 minutes, or until the peas are tender. Remove from the heat.