Pistachio-Crusted Chicken with Coconut-Chili-Ginger Sauce
Dish Created for Oprah Winfrey's Guest
This dish, which I created for a special guest of Ms. Winfrey, is one of my most frequently requested dishes. Everyone asks for seconds. We have served it over and over again to our guests. If you love the flavors of Asia, this is right up your pad Thai alley. My sous chef, Rey Villalobos, crusts his chicken ahead of time and refrigerates it, which he says makes the crust stay on better. The sauce is my most famous. I've even had people tell me they could drink this sauce. It can be made ahead of time because it keeps well in the refrigerator.
For the sauce, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the tablespoon of butter, the shallots, lemongrass, ginger slices and wine. Reduce to half. Add the broth, red curry paste and Chinese black bean chili sauce and reduce to half again. Add the coconut milk and reduce to half a third time. Remove from the heat and whisk the bits of butter into the sauce until all the butter has been incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. If you reheat, do not allow the sauce to boil or the butter will separate.
For the chicken, remove the chicken from the brine and cut in half. With a meat mallet, pound until 1/4-inch thick and place in a nonreactive bowl. Pour the buttermilk over the chicken, cover, and let sit for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.
In a food processor, place half of the pistachios, half of the parmesan cheese, and half of the herbs. Pulse 5 or 6 times until the mixture is finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat this step with the rest of the pistachios and combine with the other pistachio mixture.
Preheat the oven to 250°.
Place the flour in another bowl and season it with salt and pepper. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and prepare it for assembly. Preheat a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-low heat with a thin coating of grape seed oil. Remove one breast, shake off any excess buttermilk and dust the breast with flour on each side. Dip only one side of the chicken back in the buttermilk and press pistachios onto that side. Repeat that step with all the chicken. Place the chicken in the sauté pan, pistachio side down, and cook for 2–3 minutes. Turn and cook the other side for 2 to 3 minutes. Place in the oven to finish cooking for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove, let rest for 5 minutes and then slice to serve with the Coconut Chile Ginger Sauce.
For the brine, which makes 1 1/4 cups, place the salt, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns and 2 cups cold water into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
When brining chicken use a nonreactive pot or plastic container. Completely submerge the poultry in cold water and weigh it down with a plate. Add the brine and cover. Let the chicken sit in the brine for at least two hours, preferably overnight.