Whoop here it is 🙂 I love a bit of serendipity, and I reckon it happens all the time, especially if you’re on the look out! This week I had the chance to have a lovely coffee catch-up with an old client and friend of mine from the personal training days (for those who don’t know I used to own and run a fitness/boot camp business), and now she owns a fabulous butchery in Remuera, Auckland. On arrival she had a parcel tucked under her arm that I could smell above the coffee (the parcel, not her arm…) – a gift of the most incredible nitrate-free, tender smoked chicken breasts. I couldn’t wait to get home and experiment with them, keen to find a way to enhance the sweet smokey flavour without over-powering it, and I reckon this recipe does the trick. I used lumache pasta, – short fat shell/tubes to catch the Romesco sauce, grilled corn, creamy avocado, crunchy roasted almonds, roasted red peppers and ripe baby tomatoes, with a good sprinkling of coriander. If you can’t be faffed making the Romesco, you could always buy it, but I have simplified the recipe so it is a doddle to make. If you are in Auckland and keen to give it a try, you can find the Victoria Ave Butcher here, and if not – fingers crossed you can get your hands on some really good quality smoked chicken breasts – these ones were amazing!
3 ripe vine tomatoes
3 red peppers (capsicum / bell peppers) (1 is for the salad)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
2 slices ciabatta, toasted
1/2 cup roasted unsalted almonds
2 big cloves garlic (or 4 small), peeled
2-3 tbsp sherry vinegar (to taste – I used 2 1/2)
1 1/4 tsp sweet smoked paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 180˚C (350˚F) and line a small oven-proof dish with baking paper. Slice tomatoes in half and drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper and bake for 1 hour until they have a lovely intense flavour. Put aside and increase the oven temperature to 250˚C (480˚F). Cut the tops of the red peppers and trim the bottoms a tiny bit so they are flattish. Sit them upright in a baking dish and cook for 35 minutes – the skins will be black and charry. Put them straight into a bowl and cover firmly with plastic wrap – this will make them steam and the skins will be super-easy to peel off. After 20 minutes use a small sharp knife to peel away the skins. To make the Romesco put the tomatoes and their cooking juices in a food processor with two of the red peppers, the oil, toast (broken into big pieces), almonds, garlic, vinegar, paprika, salt and pepper. Whiz until smooth. Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Store in a sealed container in the fridge – this is great with seafood and chicken, stirred through pasta, in sandwiches, on bruschetta – go wild.
Smoked Chicken Pasta Salad:
3/4-1 cup Romesco sauce
Cook the corn cobs for 5 minutes in plenty of boiling water, drain and set aside for 5 minutes. Brush lightly with a little olive oil and grill on a grill plate for a few minutes to get a wee bit of extra flavour and for the lovely grill marks (don’t panic if you can’t be bothered/don’t have a grill plate, just proceed without this step). I usually snap the cobs in half, then hold them on a board, middle snapped side down and use a sharp knife to slice off the kernels in strips. When you cook the pasta, don’t drain with water, just toss through a tablespoon of olive oil and a good pinch of sea salt to stop it sticking and bring out the pasta flavour – and don’t over cook it – al dente is best! Stir the Romesco through the pasta before adding the red pepper, corn, avocados, tomatoes, corainder, smoked chicken, coriander and almonds, reserving some of the coriander, almonds and the red onion to garnish. Serve a little extra Romesco on the side along with some ciabatta and a nice glass of wine. Serves 6 for lunch, 4-6 for dinner