Saturday, October 3, 2009

Chicken Picatta with Pumpkin Purée

Okay -- not the prettiest thing I have ever made. But when I saw james use the back of his fork to scrape up the last of the pumpkin I figured I was in pretty good shape. That's as close to plate licking as the big man gets.
Earlier this year we tried a "three sisters" planting in the front yard. First the corn. When the corn sprouted, pole beans to grow up the stalks and finally squashes to keep the corn's "feet" nice and shady and cut down on the weeds. All that was behind the "tomato fence" James helped construct, in spite of his distaste for the fruits. By now -- right smack in LA's lingering Indian summer -- we are waiting for the last few pumpkins to mature before we turn the front over to a fava bean cover crop. Not too long ago I noticed some bugs were thinking of taking up residence (they already tried a bite or two) in one of my prized pumpkins -- a grayish Jarrahdale Blue pumpkin I'd been nurturing since early spring.
It came down to eat it or have it eaten -- to turn a phrase, and so I picked my pumpkin, cut out the already tasted parts and sat down to find a recipe worthy of the garden's efforts. Based on a turkey recipe I saw on Epicurious, I started in on dinner.
I cut the pumpkin up into big chunks, discarded the seeds, and placed it in a baking dish with about a cup of water, covered tightly with tin foil. The pumpkin baked at 400º until tender -- about an hour.
Meanwhile I butterflied out a chicken breast, laid several sage leaves on top and covered both with two slices of prosciutto. I used my hand to press the sage and the prosciutto into the chicken breast, seasoned with S&P and dredged the filet in a light dusting of flour. I quickly seared the dredged filet in a mixture of olive olive oil and butter (prosciutto side down first) until cooked through. Then poured out the extra oil and deglazed the pan with a bit of port, added chicken stock and lemon juice and reduced by half. I finished the sauce with a bit of butter.
While the sauce reduced I put the cooked pumpkin (peeled) into the food processor with some garlic, red pepper, S&P, brown sugar, and a smidge of olive oil and processed until smooth (you may need a bit of water to loosen it up).
To serve place a hearty dollop of the pumpkin purée on the plate, layer on the sautéed filet, add some fresh arugula leaves dressed with S&P and balsamic vinegar. Spoon a bit of the pan sauce on top.

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