Thanks to the help of Chef Blaszczyk at Alyki Restaurant, Wroclaw Uncut are resurrecting the popular recipe of the month feature. To start us off, Pawel Blaszczyk has prepared a dazzling dish with chicken and pumpkin for the month of November.
To find out how it's done, click here or scroll down for our step by step guide. Meanwhile for those keen to learn a bit about our chef and his kitchen, here's the lowdown:
Every month at the Alyki Restaurant, located at the base of Sky Tower, introduces a new chapter into its seasonal rotating menu. Many chefs would say they don’t have the luxury to change their menu monthly, but Pawel Blaszczyk feels the best way to inject intensity into his cooking is to use the most flavorful – that is, fresh, seasonal and local – ingredients. And, with a recent People’s Choice win on both the city-wide and national level in Poland’s Restaurant Week Spring 2016, I won’t be the one to tell him not to play with his food.
We’ve reviewed his cooking before, and were impressed with his attention to detail and simple presentation. Blaszczyk takes a hard line against molecular gastronomy for the sake of theatricality – he wants people to experience the fullness of flavor in great produce, and refuses to present a subpar plate.
What about our recipe of the month for November then?
Well, November is very much pumpkin month. American readers will know this to be the iron truth, as we can no longer rely on tomatoes and beets for color and flavor, but can expect the sweet, versatile depth of any pumpkin or winter squash to give itself unto our pies, sauces, soups, and roasts.
Chef Blaszczyk appreciates this, and has created his November “Queen of Autumn” menu (a total of 9 dishes in addition to his year-round staples) around the humble pumpkin. Each dish has one or more elements of this vegetable playing first or second fiddle.
The dish he has prepared for us is simple, delicious, and easy enough to recreate at home, though perhaps not with all of his fancy flourishes. You can get all of these ingredients at any decent market or vegetable shop – have you been to Bazar Smakoszy yet? For best effect, try to find Polish-grown veg, greens, and nuts, and pair this dish with a Polish pilsner or a Belgian blonde ale.
On our arrival at Alyki, Blaszczyk has the up on us from the start, as he has not one but two sous-vide machines in his well-appointed kitchen. This method, of course, gives the chicken an intense flavor that could be leached out via other forms of cooking.
We might not be able to cook sous-vide at home, but we can at least brine our chickens and use fine ingredients to present them as best we can. Thankfully a little salt, pepper, and a watchful eye on the grill can turn out a moist and flavorful breast as a foundation for the dish.
Meanwhile for those unfamilar with the Endive leaves in the recipe, they are a sweeter, juicier cousin of bitter radicchio and work hand in hand with the walnuts to provide a foil to the sweet pumpkin.
So without further delay, here's how it's done:
So let’s break it down. This dish, as with those of most professional restaurants, has elements that are best made ahead of time. If you time it right you can make the potatoes, pumpkin, and pesto ahead of time and just sauté everything quickly while the chicken is grilling.
Chicken and side vegetables
2 medium chicken breasts, pounded to 1.5cm thickness and brined in salt water for 30 minutes
1 large butternut or kabocha squash, 2 large acorn squash, or any baking pumpkin (Hokkaido works well), cut into 1-2cm cubes and tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and red chili powder
500g small new potatoes (skin on), tossed in olive oil and salt
1 cup of the roasted pumpkin
½ of a lemon: juice + zest
¼ cup grated parmesan
1 cup chopped parsley
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1 clove garlic
2 Tbs olive oil
100g raw walnut halves
1 cup fresh arugula (or other winter green)
A small handful of the roasted pumpkin cubes
Fresh herbs of your choice (parsley, rosemary, thyme or sage would all be great here)
Chicken and side vegetables
The potatoes take the longest to cook – roast them at 190ºC for 1 hour. When ready, cut the potatoes in half and toss them with melted butter, salt, and dill.
The pumpkin or squash should be roasted for 30 minutes at 180ºC until cooked but not falling apart.
When the vegetables are ready, toss the chicken breasts with olive oil, salt, and pepper and grill on medium heat in a cast iron pan for 2-4 minutes on each side (until 70ºC in the center).
Take all of the ingredients above and coarsly blend them together before spreading the mixture onto the cooked chicken breasts.
With a little butter, saute 100g of raw walnut halves with the fresh arugula (or other winter green) and the remaning pumpkin cubes until the pumpkin is golden and fragrant and the arugula is still bright but slightly wilted. It would also be great to add some fresh herbs like parsley, rosemary, thyme or sage. Then arrange 3-4 whole endive leaves on top.
For some classy presentation, have the chicken perched on top of the potatoes with a drizzle of high quality olive oil. The salad meanwhile is a wonderfully festive mess piled up with the aid of some bright endive leaves.