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Friday, March 21, 2014

Chicken & Barley-Squash Pilaf

It's nice to find your niche in cooking, and for the most part I had found mine over
the years in earthy flavors, rich sauces, gravies and plenty of carb combos.
With this new diabetes oriented menu that eliminates most carbs and sugars, though,
I decided it was time to expand my horizons. To that end, I dove into my
Better Homes & Gardens 150 Chicken Dinners and found this relatively
labor-intensive, yet very fun, dish (slightly modified). In a word? 
A M A Z I N G !

 Don't be alarmed by the number of ingredients... I promise
it will all make sense as we get into the preparation :-)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp chopped shallot
  • 1 1/2 cups lo-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup (heaped) 3/4" butternut squash cubes
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking barley
  • 1 medium red apple, chopped with skin on
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3-4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (~1 lb)
  • 1/4 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds (shelled)
  • 1/4 cup chutney (mango works)
  • 1/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • Snipped fresh parsley leaves
1: The Pumpkin Seeds
There's a real good chance you won't find these already shelled, roasted and salted, but as long as you can round up some shelled seeds, we're good. Lightly coat a 7-9" skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat and add the shelled seeds. Give the seeds another spritz of cooking spray. Toss frequently and add salt until you hear the seeds crackle and they look toasted. Remove from pan and set aside for later.

2: The Dip
Combine the chutney and yogurt in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.
Refrigerate until it's time to serve the meal.

3: The Rub
In a small bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, salt, turmeric and cayenne pepper.
Mix these dry goods thoroughly until you have an even color throughout.
Coat/rub chicken on all sides and then spray lightly with cooking spray.
Set aside while starting the pilaf.
4: The Pilaf
First order of business is to peel, cut and cube the squash. Be careful here as knives can get hung up in squash. For a quick tutorial on squash prep, take a look on Simply Recipes.

In a medium saucepan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot; cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth, squash and barley. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10-12 minutes or just until the squash and barley are tender, stirring once or twice. Next, stir in the chopped apple and cook for 3-4 more minutes, covered, until apple is just tender. Remove mix from heat.
5:The Chicken
Spray a large covered skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat.
Place chicken in pan and cook for 12 minutes, covered, turning only once.
Be sure chicken is no longer pink (170 degrees F). Remove from pan.
6: Final Assembly
Slice the chicken breasts across the grain into 1/4" slices.

Divide the pilaf among dinner plates and place sliced chicken on top. Add roasted pumpkin seeds and snipped parsley leaves. Serve chilled dip on the side.

Be prepared for to hear delightful moaning around the table... :-) 
This one is a winner in my book!

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