Friday, August 22, 2014

Falafel-Crusted Chicken

I'm calling this the Chilafel, even though that really should be reserved for a fried patty of falafel mix and ground chicken.  I just wanted to use the word.

I'm finally out of bread crumbs!  That only took four years.  So, what else to use for coating skinless chicken?  Let's face it, chicken skin provides flavor and keeps the meat from drying out.  I recently stocked up at Sprouts with stuff out of the bins, and one of the bags was full of garbanzo beans.  Every recipe for something similar that I found online uses boxed falafel mix, and there is nothing wrong with that if you happen to like the stuff.  I find it too salty and spicy and make my own.  Plus, now I know how much of it you need to coat four thinly-sliced chicken breast pieces.

And you do need to cut them in half the hard way.  The pieces should be no more than half an inch thick, or the falafel will burn before the chicken is done.  You could use chicken tenders, but then the chicken may cook before the falafel is crispy.  I got lucky and found the right thickness on the first try.

1/2 C dry garbanzo beans
1/4 C yellow or green onion
*2 cloves garlic
*1 Tb parsley flakes
*1 Tb flour or matzoh meal
*1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
*2 Tb fresh cilantro
*1/4 tsp coriander seeds
*dash pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
Vegetable oil or Peanut oil, for frying (Not olive oil)

1.  The day before, start soaking beans in 2 C water.  Garbanzos can soak up to 24 hours.

2.  Drain beans and dump in food processor with onion, garlic, parsley, flour, cumin, salt, cilantro, coriander, and pepper.  Pulse until beans are all broken up and mixture is a coarse paste similar to lumpy oatmeal.  Do not make it too smooth.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour for flavors to meld.

3.  Pour enough oil into a 10" skillet to coat the bottom.  The reason you're not using olive oil is because olive oil has too low a smoke point to cook meat.  We need this to get up to about 350º.  Start heating oil on medium while you prepare the chicken.

4.  Slice chicken in half horizontally, like you're cutting cake layers.  It isn't easy, and I tore the first one a few times.  The great part is that you can't tell once it is coated.  Rub oil on all sides of chicken so the falafel can stick to something.
5.  Transfer falafel mix to a shallow pan for easier coating.  Press chicken into mix until both sides are covered.  My falafel didn't want to stay on at first.  Just keep sticking it back on like spackle.  If you have extra, just make falafel balls out of it.  They won't be vegetarian because the mix has touched chicken, but at least you're not wasting it.  I got one falafel ball, meaning that this is very close to the exact amount of coating you need for the chicken.
6.  Test oil with a drop of water to make sure it's hot enough.  If the drop pops or dances, you're good to go.  Turn on fan and maybe open a window.  Gently place chicken in skillet, because it might splatter.  Cook until coating is lightly browned and crispy, about 5 minutes.  Turn with tongs or a spatula and cook other side for slightly less time, 3 or 4 minutes.  Only turn the chicken once.  I found out that turning it again makes the coating fall off.  Remove to paper towel-lined platter and serve hot.

Difficulty rating  :)

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