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Chicken Pockets and Black-Eyed Peas

Chicken Pockets and Black-Eyed Peas
I like to look back at old cookbooks and see if I can find some good recipes that I have forgotten about. Such is the case with these recipes. I used Emeril’s cookbooks when he was in his prime and always liked his chicken recipe with goat cheese and chorizo over black-eyed peas. This dish feels old and new at the same time, since stuffing chicken pockets is really current and black-eye peas are so traditional. I had not done this recipe in years. But it needs a classier name, maybe Chicken Emeril?
This is a perfect company dish since the chicken breasts can be cooking while serving drinks and the black-eyed peas can be done a day ahead. I served some broccoli on the side. So try this chicken dish. It has a wonderful flavor and the peas are so flavorful with the tasso.

From Emeril’s N. E. W. New Orleans Cooking, 1993.
Makes 4 main-course servings
8 ounces (1 cup) chopped chorizo, the casings removed and discarded (I used smoked kielbasa and added some smoked paprika to give the chorizo flavor.)
4 ounces (1/2 cup) goat cheese, such as Montrachet
¼ cup roasted 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-Eye Peas (recipe below)
4 skinned and boned chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each), pounded very thin
4 teaspoons Creole seasoning
2 teaspoons olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400°F. 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 1 ½ cups of stuffing.
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 over the stuffing and pinch the edges together. Brush the tops with 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 18-20 minutes.
To serve, spread ¾ cup of the Black-Eyed Peas on each of 4 plates, and top with 1 chicken pocket.

Southern-Style Black-Eyed Peas
Makes 3 cups
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup chopped onion
2 ounces (1/4 cup) chopped tasso or other spiced ham
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 ½ cups dried black-eye peas
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
4 cups basic chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
Heat the oil in a saucepan over high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 1 minute. Add the tasso, garlic, peas, and Creole seasoning and stir-fry for 1 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.