Spicy Chicken Fingers with Salsa Santa Fe

fullsizerender-3It’s official. Autumn is here. Gone are the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Heck, they’re barely a distant memory. Stretching before us are shorter days, longer nights and a definite nip in the air.

But that’s not bad – in the world of food, that’s pretty darn good. Now we can break out the slow cooker, select a sassy bottle of red (or two) and gather round the imitation-log-effect-gas-fire with friends and loved ones. On second thought, forget the friends and loved ones – snuggle up with your dog instead.

Autumn also means football and if ever a sport cried out for food, that’s the one. I mean, why were chip ‘n dip trays invented, if not for football? Don’t like football? Who cares? Turn down the sound and focus on the food instead. Plates full of cheesy nachos, bowls of salted nuts and a go bag of Tums for your guests.

fullsizerender-4 Of course at Chile HQ, we prefer to serve something more refined to our guests, game on or not. Something that whispers elegance, sophistication and drop-that-last-one-cuz-it’s-mine. Voila! Our Spicy Chicken Fingers. Now as anyone knows, chicken don’t have fingers. Thank heavens as the idea of chickens with ten digits and a pinky ring is simply too weird for words.

When we say fingers we mean strips. Basically they are slices of white chicken breast meat. Now you could slice these yourself and save a bit of money and feel smug and virtuous. Or you could whip a package already sliced off the shelves and get over it. Your choice. We’ve added a kick of green chile to a mix of cornmeal and flour. If you have the time (and you would, if you weren’t so busy slicing up those chicken breasts), then fry one up to sample. If it’s not spicy enough you can always add in a bit more chile. Too hot already? Nah, of course not.

We serve these up with our Salsa Santa Fe mix (Red & Green). Frighteningly easy to make and dazzling in its results. Close the curtains (it’s already dark outside anyway), throw another imaginary log onto the gas fire, give Fido a tickle behind the ear, and hunker down. Summer’s over but who cares. Bring Autumn on.

fullsizerender-2 Spicy Chicken Fingers with Salsa Santa Fe

Serves 2 hungry people or 3 who just ate lunch an hour or so ago

Salsa

1 ½ Tbsp Salsa Santa Fe mix (Red & Green)

1 green onion, finely chopped green part only

Juice of half a lemon

14 oz. can of crushed tomatoes

2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

 

Spicy chicken

12 oz. Chicken breast strips

1 egg

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup cornmeal

1 Tbsp New Mexico green chile powder

1 tsp sea salt

Olive or vegetable oil.

1 lemon, cut into wedges

Set aside about half of the green onions and chopped cilantro to use as a garnish when you’re ready to serve the chicken. Place all of the rest of the salsa ingredients into a bowl and mix together thoroughly. Allow this to sit for about a half an hour before serving in order to allow the flavors to marry.

In a frying pan, heat a tablespoon or two of oil on medium high heat. While it’s heating, whisk the egg in a shallow bowl and add a pinch of salt. Mix the flour, cornmeal, green chile powder and sea salt in a separate bowl. Dip the chicken in the egg then the flour/cornmeal mixture. Place in the pan and fry until golden brown on one side then flip and cook on the other. Don’t crowd the pan – fry in batches if you need to and top up with additional oil as necessary. Place the cooked chicken on a serving platter and garnish the salsa and the chicken with the remaining green onions and cilantro. Serve with wedges of lemon.fullsizerender-5

Chile Mango Salsa

Mangos are sexy. There, I’ve said it. Sure, it’s a tropical fruit and we know tropical is sexy but it’s more than that. They’re lush and perfumed…juicy and succulent. Hold a ripe mango up to your nose and take a deep whiff and you’ll know what I’m talking about: it’s heaven. And the best thing – that lovely sweetness isn’t afraid to stand up to chile. In fact, the two were made for each other.

MANGO 1

Once upon a time, it was tough to get mangos but now it’s pretty easy. Most of our mangos come from Mexico, Haiti, the Caribbean and South America but you’ll find them growing in tropical climates all over the world. The countries where we get our mangos from have two main growing seasons so you can usually find mangos year round. And you’ll find some homegrown mangos from Florida, Hawaii, California and Puerto Rico.

For something that tastes so decadently sweet, mangos are surprisingly good for you. Actually, astonishingly good for you.They’ve got loads of Vitamins A and C and buckets of potassium. And very high fiber too, if I might add. And best of all they’re low calorie – about 110 calories for an average mango. Not bad.

MANGO 3

I think what puts some people off mangos is slicing them and I’ll be honest, it is a bit of a fiddle. There is a fairly large stone in the middle which the flesh clings too so you can’t simply slice it in half like an avocado. You’ve got to slice around the stone and then take the skin off. It’s no big deal and I share my tips to make it easy in the recipe. Or go online and check out a video tutorial.

Lastly, before you slice into a mango, make sure it’s ripe. You can’t always tell by the color. Different varieties can be dark green, vibrant yellow or yellow and green with a red blush that makes it look like a really delicious Tequila Sunrise. The best test, is to gently press the skin. It should yield slightly. Oh, and of course take a whiff. Now tell me that’s not sexy.

MANGO 4Chile Mango Salsa

Makes about 1 cup of salsa but feel free to double or triple the recipe

1 ripe mango, cubed (see below) – about 1 cup
1 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped
Juice of ½ lime
1 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
½ tsp chile pequin
Pinch of sea salt

MANGO 2Mangos have a stone in the center that is about an inch wide. Insert the tip of your knife into either side of the stone. If you hit the stone, don’t worry. Just lift your knife and move it slightly over. Once on one side of the stone, slice through. Repeat on the other side. You now have two ‘cheeks’  that are slightly boat shaped. To remove the skin, place a cheek on your chopping board and slice it in half lengthwise. You’ll now have two quarters. Repeat with the other cheek so you have four quarters in total.

Now take your knife and insert it at one end as close to the mango skin as possible. Slide the knife between the skin and fruit to separate the two. I use a filleting knife for this because it has a slightly flexible blade that I find easier to use with mango. Repeat with the other mango quarters. You can also get an additional piece of flesh off either side of the stone. Dice the flesh.

MANGO 5

Mix the mango with the other ingredients, check for seasoning and serve. Superb with chicken, seafood – shrimp, scallops, tuna, swordfish (you get the idea) or simply a bowl of tortilla chips. Best made no more than an hour or so before serving.