Folks, I won’t lie to you, this chicken dish is definitely an orgasmic recipe. I’m not patting myself on the back because I’ve created something wonderful – I just want you to try this. It’s not a simple recipe done in just a few minutes but much of it can be done ahead of time and you will come back and thank me. If things are done ahead, it only takes about 20-25 minutes to get it on the table.
The Australian Macadamia Society sent me some gorgeous raw macadamia nuts a couple of weeks ago so I could come up with something yummy for my blog. To them I say thank you, thank you, thank you because this dish is to die for and I would never have done it without your encouragement.
A lot of Americans think that the macadamia nut is from Hawaii but it’s actually native to Australia. They are named after a scientist in the 1850s, Dr. John McAdam. Out of all the native Australian foods (bush tucker), the macadamia is the only one developed commercially as a food. Folks, Australian macadamia nuts are really really good. If you have a chance to get some, you should.
The only tough thing about the macadamia is the shell. It’s a bear to crack. Nearly every farmer’s market in Queensland where I live will have a stall of unshelled nuts and hand made whiz-bang nut crackers. That’s how I got mine.
A crafty fellow with a big sack of nuts cracks one after another and shows how easy they are to crack so people will fork over for not only a bag of macadamia nuts but they’ll buy the cracker too. I’m guilty as charged.
You put the nut in the rubber bit and slam the hammer on something hard and then use the little handle to poke the nut out. It’s brilliant.
Anyway, moving along to my chicken dish. John and I chatted over lunch one day about WHAT I was going to do with those gorgeous nuts before we’d tested them all gone. I said I loved balsamic onions, roasted garlic and brie and thought they’d go well with the chicken. He agreed.
Once I decided what I wanted to make with the wonderful nuts, I trolled the net for some recipe ideas for macadamia crusted chicken and I found Paul Hegeman’s recipe on Chef’s Pencil and I bow down before him for this sauce. I know I probably cooked the sauce too long because it began to caramelize but I loved it that way and will do it again. If you don’t like it sweet or caramelly, don’t use more than a tiny splash of port and cook the cream only for a few minutes.
I started by roasting the garlic and caramelizing the onions. Is there anything that smells better than onions cooking with balsamic vinegar along with garlic roasting in the oven? I was SO hungry but I hadn’t even started on dinner. (it was also only 2pm) The onions take a really long time to cook so don’t rush this process. You don’t want burnt onions, just slow cooked and tangy sweet.
Once the garlic is roasted and cool, pop out the cloves into the onions and combine, then set aside til you’re ready to use them. You can make the onions and garlic up to several days ahead of time.
You can also make the macadamia crust mixture ahead of time too. Grate the Parmesan cheese, finely chop the nuts and cover tightly and place in the refrigerator until you need them. This makes the actual meal very quick because all you need to do is add the panko crumbs just before you roll the chicken breasts in the crust mixture.
When it’s time to make dinner, make a pocket in the side of the chicken breast and stuff some onions and a slice of brie in there, then roll it in flour, dip it in beaten egg and roll in those delicious macadamia crumbs.
I turned on the oven to 180° (350°F) and while it was heating I pan fried the chicken for just a few minutes until both sides were golden brown. Then I transferred them to an oven tray and baked them for 16 minutes.
While they were baking I made the sauce (oh this sauce!) and wilted the spinach. If you have never tried sage cream sauce with port, you are in for a treat. All it has in it is butter, sage, port and cream. Depending upon how much port you put in, it can be a bit sweet. You know how John doesn’t have a sweet tooth in his head so he tasted it and said, “It’s too sweet.” I looked at him and said, “no problem,” and carefully scraped all the sauce off his chicken and into my mouth.
When I had it all plated and served dinner he said, “Where’s my sauce??”
“It’s too sweet for you.”
“I loved it but it IS too sweet, can I have some?”
“Sorry, I ate it with a spoon.” My bad. There WILL be a next time for this wonderful recipe at our house. I hope I haven’t forgotten anything because sometimes I’m not so clever on writing down something new. I do a bit of this and a bit of that and if it’s good I sit back and try to remember what I did.
- 2 medium-large onions sliced thinly
- 1 tbs oil
- ⅛ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbs brown sugar (more if you like sweeter onions)
- Salt & pepper
- 1 firm head of garlic
- 1 tsp olive oil
- sea salt
- 4 Chicken breasts
- 1 cup raw macadamia nuts
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (the good stuff)
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- plain flour for rolling chicken in
- 1 egg beaten and in a bowl big enough to dip the chicken breasts
- Caramelized onions with roast garlic
- 4 slices of brie
- 2 tbs butter
- 6 sage leaves finely sliced (or heaps of little tiny leaves if you’re growing your own sage)
- Port wine (only need a splash but it’s important – you could use white wine but port is a must-have in my kitchen)
- 300 ml (10 oz) cream
- Place onions in a large skillet with the oil and sprinkle with salt. The salt helps to release moisture and keeps the onions from browning too fast.
- Cook over low heat until the onions are translucent.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar and pepper.
- Stir to combine.
- Add water every time the pan looks dry and cook on low heat until the onions are dark brown and delicious. It took me nearly 2 hours to get mine the way I like them. (it’s okay to taste one.. if it’s not crunchy, it’s probably done)
- Cool and cover and place in the refrigerator til needed.
- Cut a piece of tin foil big enough to enclose the head of garlic.
- Place the garlic on top of the foil.
- Cut the top of the garlic off to expose the cloves.
- Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Bring the sides of the foil together and twist the top.
- Place in the oven at 180C/350F for 45 minutes.
- Cool and squeeze out the cloves into the caramelized onions.
- Place in the refrigerator until needed.
- In a food processor add the Parmesan cheese and macadamia nuts and process until the nuts are fine but not powder. You want some crunch.
- Place in a bowl and mix in the panko crumbs.
- Place enough flour to coat chicken in a wide bowl and season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F
- With a knife, make a pocket in the sides of the chicken breasts
- Place a spoonful of caramelized onions and roast garlic in the pocket along with a piece of brie.
- Roll each chicken breast in seasoned flour
- Dip in the beaten egg
- Roll in the macadamia and Parmesan coating mixture
- Heat a skillet and a small amount of oil and fry each chicken breast until golden on both sides.
- Place on a baking tray and bake for 16 minutes or til done.
- Heat the butter in a sauce pan and add the sage leaves and cook just until the butter begins to turn color. You don’t want to burn the butter, just darken it slightly.
- Add the port and cook off the alcohol for a minute or so. It will sizzle so be careful.
- Add the cream and cook for a minute. I cooked mine longer and I loved the caramelization but that wasn’t what the recipe said.
- Serve the chicken drizzled with just a bit of the sauce and a few chopped macadamia nuts on top.