FFWD – (Not) Cinnamon-Crunch Chicken

Chicken atop brown rice vermicelli.

Sometimes the stars don’t align when I’m planning to make a recipe. It’s not surprising that this might happen occasionally while participating in a weekly cooking group. This week’s French Fridays recipe, Cinnamon-Crunch Chicken, sounds like a quick, interesting, weeknight dinner choice. Crumbled speculoos coating slices of chicken breast, with crème fraiche for richness – fifteen minutes from preparation to table. Sounds good, except for one thing – I wasn’t able to get any suitable gluten-free cookies and my usual gluten-eating victims taste-testers just weren’t available.

No matter. As Doristas like to say, French Fridays recipes are as much jumping off points as they are road maps. The cinnamon put me in mind of Moroccan flavours, so I marinated slices of chicken breast in safflower oil, lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar, cumin, paprika, and garlic. I left the chicken in the marinade for a couple of hours, then sautéed it in a little chicken stock. Meanwhile, I softened some brown rice vermicelli in hot water. When the chicken was done, I added a little more lemon juice to the pan and gave it a good stir. Then, I fried the vermicelli in the pan juices. Quinoa would have been a closer match for the traditional (and gluten-y) couscous, but I fancied the vermicelli tonight.

Marinating chicken.

As you can see, I’m not much of a recipe writer. I love the term au pif, which Dorie describes as cooking by instinct. It’s an everyday way of making a meal – using what’s on hand and changing the ingredients according to taste. Tonight’s chicken could easily be turned into a stew with the addition of lentils or chickpeas, vegetables and a bit more liquid. It could also be served over any number of starches or some lightly dressed greens. So, not a recipe at all, really.

Sautéing the chicken.

Sometimes, that’s what cookbooks are for – inspiration, not instruction. I learn a lot by following recipes exactly, using techniques and ingredients that are new to me, but the digressions are where creativity lies. I’m looking forward to reading about everyone’s experience with this week’s recipe proper and I’m quite sure I’ll find some other instances where things took a different turn.

You can find many blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Cinnamon-Crunch Chicken.

You’ve still got a couple of days to check out my 100th post, too – I’ve got a little giveaway happening. The winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 20th.


13 thoughts on “FFWD – (Not) Cinnamon-Crunch Chicken

  1. Teresa, Your version appeals to me much more then the original. We were away this weekend, for our anniversary, so I never got to make this…I do plan on giving it a try eventually. The spice cookies just don’t appeal to me. Your chicken looks delicious!

  2. You rock!!! I would have just taken the week off, and here you took your inspiration from Dorie and made your own dish.

    PS…I had a heck of a time finding the cookies. I can only imagine the elusiveness of a gluten free version!

  3. I didn’t really enjoy the cookie and cream sauce on this. Like Kathy, I think your version sounds so much more appealing. I agree with you about cookbooks often being more about inspiration. Nice job!

  4. I’m with the rest who think this looks much more appealing as well! I couldn’t bring myself to make this one… well..I wasn’t even home this week but had I been…I couldn’t have brought myself to make it. lol.

  5. Great job! Your version sounds better to me, although our chicken turned out good…not fabulous…and we had to improvise on the cookies; used gingersnaps and extra cinnamon. The house really smelled good, though, and I think that those smells got everyone really hungry and so the chicken tasted even better because of the good smells. Nice write-up, and, yes, you are a good writer.

  6. I think your digression sounds great! It was a little sweet for me, so your flavors seem really good. It probably didn’t help that I made some ratatouille at the same time – much more to my taste. But it’s still fun to try things we never would otherwise – right??

  7. this was the recipe that got me totally hooked on creme fraiche!! I didn’t love it the first day, but the sauce mellowed and wasn’t as sour the second day and the basmati rice that I served it over soaked up the yummy sauce and I kinda have a love/hate relationship with it. I think I might make it for my husband and let him decide. 🙂

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