Sour Cream Jalapeno Chicken
I like to keep my jalapenos on the bush until they turn red. There's much more of a complex flavor, sweet, rich, earthy, compared to the more bitter and grassy green peppers. It's similar to red and green bell peppers, as is the cost of the final product -- the red peppers take longer to ripen, and perish more quickly, so if they're offered in the store at all, they're three times the price. Which doesn't factor into things when I'm growing them in my own yard. That said, I have to come up with recipes to use red jalapenos, or fry up a bunch as poppers.
When I was a teenager in metro Washington DC, the Washington Post had a cooking section in the weekend paper. I had some disastrous results from the more adventurous recipes (I made a stuffed squid dish, when I had no concept about seafood freshness, nor temperature control, and I'm sure that house still has a residual odor). However, one of the recipes was a chicken breast, oven baked, with a sour cream topping mixed with diced jalapenos. That one turned out pretty tasty, but I haven't actually made it since then...and that was maybe 25 years ago.
Still, with a couple red jalapenos sitting on my counter, the sour cream and jalapeno chicken recipe from my teenage years jumped into my mind, and I tried to recreate it -- from memory and a little more culinary experience.
I used home grown red jalapenos, but this is just as good with green. The red will give a lot more subtle sweetness, but there's a lot of flavor in this dish, so it will not be hurt (and may give another dimension) with the more raw taste of the green pepper.
But, like any good chicken recipe, it starts with bacon. A few strips of center-cut, heated in a medium pan until crispy, then minced
Then, for the chiles, I cut and seeded two red jalapenos, chopped them, and sorted some canned green chiles (there's always some pepper skin and stems needing to be removed)
I mixed some spices: flour, chili powder, cumin, red (cayenne) pepper, kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder. About 1/3rd of this was mixed with 1/2 cup of sour cream, then the bacon, and the chiles were added, and the sour cream mixture was stirred together and saved
The rest of the spices were dredged with boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
I used my 12-inch pan, heated to medium-high, then added a couple tablespoons olive oil. I spread the olive oil around and did a quick sear on both sides of the chicken until the spice mixture browned into an intense flavor
I put the chicken breasts in a roasting pan (probably too big for two chicken breasts, but I didn't have anything smaller, and it wouldn't hurt except when it comes to washing the dishes later...), covered with the sour cream mixture, topped with some shredded sharp cheddar cheese, then put the pan in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.
The chicken was baked until the chicken breast juices ran clear, roughly 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Plating was a simple breast with some scallions, and a mixed baby-green salad for some green.
Deconstruction: The quick sear, then the oven-bake while topped with sour cream really made a tender chicken breast. The flavors of the sour cream were really complex, which was probably helped by the heat (similar to browning a cut of meat -- the heat creates what is commonly called caramelization, but which actually creates a cascade of flavor that still isn't fully understood chemically). There was a great spice kick from the jalapeno, some salty earthiness from the bacon of course, the juicy chicken, and a mellow flavor from the green chiles. This falls a bit more on the comfort-food side than high cuisine, but I would order this in a restaurant. The wonderfully tender texture of the chicken sold me, even beyond the really interesting flavors.