20, Mar 2007
coriander-cumin chicken, quinoa with mushrooms

The quinoa is basically the sort of rice dish I’ve been making lately, but with quinoa instead (I realized at the last minute I was out of rice). The chicken breasts were simply baked in a covered skillet on the stove top, but I first crusted them with coarsely ground coriander and cumin seeds.

Yellow quinoa with mushrooms
Bring 2c water to boil in a pot. Add 1c quinoa and a couple sprinkles of turmeric. Cover, reduce to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, slice about 5 shiitake and 5 crimini mushrooms and 1-2 serrano or red jalapeno peppers (depending on how spicy you want it). Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium-high. When hot, add the pepper slices and seeds and saute for a minute or two. Add the mushrooms and stir fry. Add a little soy sauce and rice wine vinegar as you go, so that the mushrooms don’t dry out — you want a bit of a sauce to mix with the quinoa. The mushrooms should darken as they soak up some of the soy sauce. When the quinoa is done, add it to the skillet and stir until blended.
Coriander-cumin chicken
Coarsely grind about a handful of coriander and cumin seeds. Trim the fat from two boneless chicken breasts. Heat olive oil in a skillet on high. Sprinkle the ground seeds on the top of the chicken breasts and put them in the skillet, top side down. Sprinkle the bottom with the remaining seeds. Sear for 1-2 minutes and flip the chicken. Sear again for 1-2 minutes, then reduce to medium, and cover. The excess seeds will cook in the oil in the bottom of the pan; occasionally add a little chicken stock to the skillet to keep things wet and keep the seeds from burning. Simmer until the chicken is firm and just done. Slice the chicken and serve it over the quinoa, topping with the extra cooked seeds.
Like brown rice, quinoa has kind of a coarse, grainy texture, but it tastes pretty good and does well, especially with a sauce. Next time I make it, I’ll probably make more of a sauce to mix with it, using tomatoes or tomatilloes or something else wet. The chicken was good, with the ground seeds making a nice crust and providing an interesting topping. The cumin flavor was fairly dominant; I’d probably try this again with something subtler (fennel seeds?) for variety. And it was a very easy meal — the only prep was slicing a few mushrooms and peppers and trimming the chicken. The actual cooking was easy.