Saturday, February 17, 2007

Savory Cocoa-Cayenne Rub Warms Up Chicken on a Very Chilly Day

Brrr! Sherwood spent the afternoon fixing the chain on his commuter bike. Yes, he is still commuting in the 10 degree Maine winter weather. His dedication falls somewhere between brave and brilliant. He came inside looking like a grease covered popsicle. Guy called from San Francisco- Hi Guy! He went for a hike today in shorts and a T-shirt. Gotta love global warming. Sherwood and I both spent time on the trainer, cycling inside to get our muscles moving. I rode first, then made supper while Sherwood did his time. I know how much he loves chocolate so I wanted to make him something special and warm with that exquisite hint of cocoabean. I combined a couple of recipes to come up with a dry rub that was scrumptuous on chicken breasts. It was spicy and savory with that complex layer of dark chocolate lusciousness. Sherwood added a bit of Beale Street Barbeque Sauce to his. We had creamy mashed potatoes and "summer" squash (to remind us all that it will acutally come sometime). The rub would also be great on pork tenderloin or your choice of ribs. If you're trying to impress a friend who likes chocolate -- this is the way to fit another course involving that mysterious bean into your menu.
For the dry rub: Grind together 2 teaspoons white peppercorns, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 2 teaspoons cardamom seeds and 3 Tablespoons sea salt. When you've ground them all together to a coarse dust add: 3 Tablespoons cocoa, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon cayenne. Mix all the ingredients well and set aside. When you're ready to make your dinner, scoop a couple of Tablespoons of rub onto a plate. Press your chicken or tenderloin into the powder, rolling it around to coat the meat. Massage the rub well so all surfaces of the meat are coated well with the rub. Drizzle meat with olive oil. Discard any rub left on the plate. Grill, Saute or roast the meat until done to your liking. If you have a favorite wet sauce you can serve it alongside for dipping. Delicious. If you prefer a more southwest flavor, substitute ground cumin for the cardamom. For a little extra spice add 1 teaspoon powdered chipotle pepper. Rubs are a great way to begin layering flavors in your meal. Use similar spices in your sauces to deepen the notes while adding other complimentary flavors to make your dish sparkle. Hooray for chocolate!

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