Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chocolate Curry Chicken + Brown Rice Pilaf - Recipe Redux

I have been a fan of Pinterest for a couple months now.  It's a great place to pin all the great recipes I stumble upon to make at a later date.  However, once February hit, my Pinterest homepage was flooded with indulgent chocolate recipes in honor of Valentine's Day.  Decadent heart shaped cookies and cakes, chocolate pancakes and waffles, and a rainbow fruit smothered in caramel and chocolate.  I get it- chocolate is a must during February (and year round in my opinion) but isn't there room for cocoa without all the added sugar?  This is why this month's Recipe Redux theme, "Chocolate love is in the Air" is quite appropo.  I decided to incorporate chocolate into an already healthy recipe in order to bump up the nutrition even more.  

I have a couple posts that discuss the benefits of cocoa.  Non-alkalized cocoa is a great source of antioxidants, serotonin, vitamins, and minerals.  I love finding ways to include more cocoa in my diet without the added sugar and fat (try it in oatmeal!).  When I saw this month's Recipe Redux theme for cocoa, I immediately thought of chocolate chicken.  It's a dish I've heard about and always wanted to try but never took the time to make.  I considered making a mole but the ingredient list was way too long and full of hard-to-find items- no thanks!  One of my go-to recipes lately is curried chicken so I figured, why not throw some cocoa in with the other aromatic spices and see what happens.  The result: a scrumptious curry with an exotic aroma (a nice change from the standard roasted chicken).  The cocoa flavor was subtle but present and the added nutrition was much appreciated.  Plus, it's loaded with fresh veggies and light coconut milk for an all around nutritious dish.  I hope you enjoy my HEART healthy recipe for curry chicken.

Chocolate Curry Chicken
2 T oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red pepper, in strips
1 small zucchini, cubed
1 T curry powder
1 t cinnamon
1 T cocoa powder
2 t ground ginger
½ t chili powder
3-4 boneless chicken breasts, cubed
1 can (14 oz) unsweetened coconut milk
½ c almonds
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion, garlic, red pepper, and zucchini in oil until soft and translucent. Add curry powder, cocoa, cinnamon, ginger, and chili and mix well. Add chicken to pan and mix together for a few minutes with spices until brown on all sides.  Add coconut milk, almonds, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until chicken is cooked though, about 10 minutes.

I served the curry over brown rice pilaf using a recipe adapted from Rachael Ray:

Rice Pilaf
2 T tub margarine
Olive oil, for drizzling
½ c orzo pasta
1 c brown rice
2 ½ c chicken stock
A pinch of saffron threads (optional)

In a pot with tight-fitting lid over medium heat, melt the margarine with a drizzle olive oil . Add the orzo and cook until golden brown, 3-4 minutes.
Stir in the rice, saffron (if using) and stock and raise the heat to bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer 30-45 minutes, until tender.

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