Fall is officially upon us, and that's fine by me because it's my favorite season. I love chilly weather (really, I'll take any excuse to wear a hoodie), the changing leaves, apple picking and anything pumpkin flavored (including pumpkin beer. This season's choice? Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale).
So technically, I should be preparing food that celebrates the season. I should be making apple pies, pumpkin soup and chili. But I've never been one to follow the rules, so when I came across a recipe for quick Coconut Crusted Chicken with Mango Salsa in the latest issue of....you guessed it...Everyday with Rachel Ray, I was amped because 1. it's fairly healthy without having to modify the recipe 2. there aren't a ton of ingredients (it's nice to keep it simple). So I decided to extend the tastes of summer for one more week before I settle into autumn.
Before I get into how this recipe tasted, I need to tell you about the lesson I learned while cooking it. Ladies and gentleman - never, ever, ever cook chicken cutlets on top of the stove, in a pan with oil ever again. You know how it usually goes - the chicken breast is thick, the outside crust cooks quickly but the center of the chicken takes forever and the next thing you know your house is filled with smoke and the chicken cutlets taste OK but are usually dry and not awesome. This recipe had me brown the cutlets for 3 minutes on the stove, and finish them off in the oven. The result? Golden brown, juicy chicken. Which rocked.
The mango salsa was super easy to make and was really delicious - I love cilantro so I really love the way its fresh flavor played off of the light sweetness of the coconut breading on the chicken. The rice vinegar was such a smart addition to the salsa, it wasn't overpowering and really helped to help the flavors come together. If I was going to make this salsa on it's own, sans chicken, I'd probably throw in a jalapeno for some heat.
I made some polenta as a side for this dish. I just used the kind that you can buy in the organic section of the produce aisle, where you can slice it and either bake or fry it. I sliced up about half of a tube for Jared and I, sprinkled it with salt and pepper (but you should get creative - think chili powder, cumin or dried cilantro) and baked it along side the chicken.
Now, go forth and make this summer meal, and if you do - let me know how it comes out.
(and hey, speaking of seasons - what's your favorite healthy-ish fall recipe? send it to me, and I'll share it here)
Coconut Crusted Chicken with Mango Salsa