Sunday, 20 July 2014

Kale Stuffed Chicken Thighs

The other night we were watching something on TV about the rise and rise of Kale as a popular vegetable - we had a little giggle when the man growing it said that he would never be able to sell it at a rural farmers market as every time farmers see it for sale they laugh and say it's cow food! Just goes to show that there are different strokes for different folks...what we think of as a trendy new superfood, the farming community see as not much more than a weed!

Anyway, on the programme I saw some really fabulous looking dark red curly kale and I commented to hubby that I really wish I could try some just for something a little different - and lo and behold when I went to the supermarket the other day there was a big old bag of dark red kale right there on the shelf. Yay! So I snapped up a bag and then had to find something to do with it!

And so the idea for last nights dinner was born - Kale Stuffed Chicken Thighs. These little beauties are made from delicious moist chicken thighs stuffed with a blend of kale, pine nuts, portabello mushrooms, garlic, and lemon zest. We had it served with cauliflower mash, roasted brussel sprouts, and topped with a garlicky tomato sauce. Delicious! There are so many options for variation with this dish - you could use chicken breast instead of thighs, you can play around with the filling ingredients, and you can serve it with rice, potato mash, baked potatoes or baked kumara - so many options! In the filling, you could use spinach or silverbeet instead of kale (just in case you can't get kale or you consider it cow food!), and if you're not a fan of mushrooms you can pop in maybe something like pumpkin or capsicum, or if you tolerate dairy you can have a bit of cheese mixed in (feta would be yummy, or good old cheddar if you prefer something a little more oozy!).

Kale Stuffed Chicken Thighs

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free

6 chicken thighs, trimmed of yucky bits
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (heat gently in a small pan over a medium heat until just golden)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
salt and pepper
2 cups kale, stems removed, lightly blanched (cook for about 1 minute in simmering water)
1 cup portabello mushrooms, sliced and sauteed 
zest of 1 lemon
juice of half a lemon

Tomato Sauce:
1 large tomato, diced (or half a tin of crushed tomatoes if you don't have fresh in the fridge)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced or crushed
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 220C. Line a roasting pan with baking paper
2. In a blender or food processor, combine the pine nuts, turmeric, paprika, cumin, garlic, kale, mushrooms, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt/pepper. Bliz until a stuffing type texture is achieved - kind of a little bit chunky still, but well combined and a little sticky
3. Lay your chicken thighs out on a board, one at a time, and spoon about 2 tbsp of kale mixture into the middle then roll up. You can secure it with a toothpick if you choose.
4. Heat about 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan over medium/high heat. Place the thighs in the pan and sear until golden brown. Remove from pan and place into roasting pan. Pop in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through (cooking time will vary depending on the size of your thighs and the length of time you have them in the pan to start with), so you will have to just check them before serving to ensure they are cooked through.
5. While the chicken is cooking, you can make the tomato sauce. Using the same pan that you fried the chicken in (that way you get the flavour from all of those yummy pan juices in your sauce). Heat over a medium heat and add the tomato. Add the garlic as well, and cook for a couple of minutes until the tomatoes have broken down a bit. It's up to you how saucy you would like it - cook for a short time and you will get a chunkier, firmer sauce, and if you keep cooking more juice will come out and the tomatoes will break down more. Remove sauce from the heat when it is at the consistency you like and stir in the parsley and lemon juice.
Serve the chicken on potato, kumara, or cauliflower mash (here's a recipe for the cauliflower mash, and dollop sauce on top. We had ours with oven roasted brussel sprouts - you can choose whichever vegetable accompaniments take your fancy!
Oh and before I go, I have to share a picture of the kids on their first trip to the snow! They had a ball, and they were completely blown away by the whole experience. I am a Christchurch girl, so it seems like such hard work going to the snow from Auckland, but it was totally worth the effort when we saw the excitement on their faces!
We've arrived!

Posing with 'Olaf' (for anyone with kids you will know who Olaf is!!) - our little mutant snowman!