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Chef's Corner: Spiced Chicken and Dates with Endive and Chili Crunch



Lettuce wraps are a delicious and fun treat that are quite easy to prepare. You can elevate the occasion by using crunchy endive to make "cups" and put it over the top with the addition of your favorite Chili Crisp. A Howie's first choice is the Chili Crunch from Momofuku which provides an extra kick of flavor from puya chilies, onions, garlic, sesame seeds, japones chilies, chilies de arbol, mushroom powder, and shallots. An exciting take on an everyday condiment you should definitely sample.


This quick, basically one pan dish is our adaptation of a recipe from Bon Appetit magazine. Serves 4 as an appetizer or perhaps 2 along with a soup of your choice, which is what we did.

 

Spiced Chicken and Dates with Endive and Chili Crunch

  • 1/3 cup almonds, toasted

  • 4 oz. Medjool dates, pitted, coarsely chopped (about ½ cup)

  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

  • 1 lb. ground chicken (we use only dark meat as it is more flavorful)

  • 4 scallions, white and dark green parts separated, thinly sliced on a diagonal

  • 1 1" piece ginger, peeled, finely grated

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated

  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt

  • 3 Tbsp. red curry paste

  • 2 large or 3 medium endive, leaves separated

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup mint leaves (to taste), torn if large

  • Chili Crunch

TIP: If you can't find endive, you might try butter lettuce. Or, iceberg lettuce is just fine. Use some of the smaller, crispier leaves. It's hard to actually know whether the amount of endive called for will be enough since just what is a "large" endive? Think about having extra on hand or at least some regular lettuce, just in case.


TIP: If you don't have (or don't like) mint, you could use fresh basil, fresh Thai basil or even chopped scallion greens. Or, nothing at all.


If you are using raw almonds, toast them on a rimmed baking sheet in a 350 degree oven, tossing once, until slightly darkened and fragrant, 8-10 minutes. Let cool.


Coarsely chop the almonds.


Place dates in a small bowl and pour in ½ cup hot water to cover; set aside.


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Arrange chicken in skillet in an even layer and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown underneath, about 5 minutes. Add white parts of scallions, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt, and cook, stirring constantly and breaking chicken apart with a wooden spoon, until combined and chicken is no longer pink, about 1 minute. Add curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, until chicken is evenly coated, about 1 minute. Add reserved dates and soaking water and cook, stirring often, until liquid is evaporated, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in almonds and dark green parts of scallions. Taste and season with more salt if needed.


To serve, arrange endive on a large platter. Spoon chicken mixture into the endive "cups" and top with Chili Crunch and mint.


WINE SUGGESTION: Gewurztraminer, nicely chilled.


To serve, arrange endive on a large platter. Spoon chicken mixture into the endive "cups" and top with Chili Crunch and mint.


WINE SUGGESTION: Gewurztraminer, nicely chilled.

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