Chicken and Caper Quenelles

Capers add their own unique flavour to food. I think of them as tasting a bit like seaweed but with a hint of earthiness. They have a sort of savoury piquancy that marries well with all sorts of other tastes.

These poached chicken quenelles are flavoured with capers, lemon rind and garlic, and enriched by a crème fraîche and egg yolk sauce with a slight bite of fresh chilli. They are irresistible. Serve with new potatoes and a green vegetable or salad.

Ingredients

  • 350 g/12 oz skinless chicken breast fillets
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic
  • 3 rounded teaspoons capers
  • 75 g/3 oz fresh white breadcrumbs
  • finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 2 small or medium eggs, separated
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh flat-leafed parsley
  • 200 ml/7 fl oz crème fraîche
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Method

Cut the chicken breast fillets into quarters and place in a food processor. Peel the garlic and press through a garlic crusher on to the chicken. Whizz until finely chopped. Roughly chop up the capers on a board. Turn the chicken into a bowl and, using a wooden spoon, stir in the chopped capers, breadcrumbs, lemon rind and egg whites. Stir thoroughly until well blended, then stir in some crushed sea salt and plenty of black pepper. Dampen your hands and form the chicken mixture into balls or small, fat sausage shapes. Bring a large pan of water to a vigorous boil, drop in the chicken quenelles and continue boiling hard for a few minutes, until they have all risen to the top. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and place closely together in an ovenproof dish. Cover with foil and keep warm in a low oven while making the sauce.

Cut the chilli open lengthways under running water, discard the seeds and stem and chop the flesh up finely. Chop the parsley leaves finely. Now put the crème fraîche into a saucepan with the egg yolks and heat very gently, stirring all the time, until the sauce thickens a little. Add the chopped chilli and stir for another minute or so. Finally, stir in the chopped parsley and season to taste with salt. Pour the sauce over the quenelles and serve at once.

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