Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chicken cakes with spicy horseradish sauce

Remember the good ol' days when I lived in Florida and every other recipe I posted involved chicken? Well, those days are long gone. Not only because I haven't breathed Florida air since April 22nd, but most of all —and this is the tidbit of news that may shock some of you— I haven't eaten any chicken since that very same day.
Crazy, right?

Well, yes and no.

To most Americans, and to my pre-April 22nd self, it certainly sounds crazy.I mean, chicken is easy. Cheap. Even nutritious. In one word, it's a staple.

Well, not so much in Italy. Nobody eats chicken regularly here, other than the odd roasted chicken on Sundays. Other than that, Italians do not enjoy and do not serve chicken as often as Americans do. Mention a chicken dish to a random Italian guy, my dad for instance, and he'll scoff. The reasons are many, but most of them have something to do with the fact that chicken itself is not the most flavorful of meats and, to make it good, you have to season the shit out of it or marinate it or cover it in sauce. Which makes most Italians shrug and say: Why don;t you eat something that is good without all these things then? 

What can I say? Every population has its obsessions, most of which are food related, especially when it comes to Italians. But that explains why I never ate the stuff growing up and, I'm guessing, that's why ever since I moved back here I haven't eaten it anymore.

Except that, a few nights ago, I was going through the only cookbook I took with me from Florida —a four pounder, hard cover version of "The Essential Dinner Tonight" by Cooking Light that caused me a lot of backache while I was transporting it in my backpack across airports and oceans— and I started recognizing all these chicken recipes that Tommy and I have loved back when I lived in Florida. And I don't know if it's the sentimental factor playing a big part in this (it most certainly is, since I've been very sentimental lately), but I've found myself longing for chicken.

I know. If my dad and/or the Italian government read this, they will disown me and probably burn my passport. 

Still, I since I was longing for a piece of freaking chicken breast cooked any freaking way, I went to the local Swiss grocery store, called Coop. Yes, like a chicken coop. Only it actually means co-op. But I digress. I went into the Coop and looked for chicken breast, knowing that all of the sudden I could no longer live without a piece of pollo. Well, boys and girls, let me tell you one thing. The Swiss must be very proud of their chickens, because to buy a mere 9 ounces of chicken breast I had to shell out 9 Swiss francs, which is about $8.50. But I was on a mission, so I whipped out my (un)trusty AmEx and came home with my loot, which I turned into one of my all-time favorite recipes: chicken cakes with spicy horseradish sauce. 

And although I call it "all time", by now you all must know that this is not a recipe from my childhood, since —to this day— whenever I tell my parents I'm having chicken for dinner, they laugh and say "we're sorry".

Oh, well. To those of you who don't have a problem with chicken, I highly recommend this recipe: it's tasty and it's moist. And Dad, in case you're reading this, it makes the chicken so good you don't even know you are having chicken.

Adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 4

1 cup bread crumbs
1  pound  skinless, boneless chicken breast
1/4  cup  chopped fresh chives
3  tablespoons  low-fat plain yogurt
1  teaspoon  Cajun seasoning
1/4  teaspoon  salt
2  large egg whites
2  teaspoons oil 

For the sauce:
2  tablespoons  low-fat yogurt
2  teaspoons  prepared horseradish
1  teaspoon  minced garlic
1/8  teaspoon  salt 

To prepare cakes, place chicken in food processor and pulse until ground. Combine chicken, chives, 3 tablespoons yogurt and seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon salt, egg whites, and breadcrumbs in a medium bowl; mix well.

Divide mixture into 8 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add patties; cook 7 minutes on each side or until done.

To prepare sauce, combine 2 tablespoons yogurt and remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with cakes.


  1. Chicken is a real favorite in my house and I think this looks incredible. It was funny, when I was living in the Middle East with my hubby I realized that they eat even more chicken than I was used to eating here (in the US). They always soaked it in lemon or vinegar water before cooking though, and to this day I always let my chicken soak for a few days like that in the fridge...it makes it super moist!

  2. I like the Tomino cheese idea-clever!

    Funny that you became chicken deficient-go figure! I always brine birds with salt, some sugar and spices-they stay juicier.

    Glad things are working alright for you.


  3. These look so good. I can't wait to make them. I live in the UK and hardly anyone eats chicken (it's not, as they say, cheap as chips, as it is in the US). But my Gent and I love it. And it's still cheaper than crab! Yum-o.

  4. your chicken cakes sound delicious!! and I do love Italian food but being a southerner also love chicken! I do miss Italy too....sigh....some of the best meals of my life!

  5. So right on the chicken...turkey too, but there is never a lack for either at the supermarket so somebody must be eating chicken regularly. I'll roast a hen maybe once a month, twice at the most, but nothing like how I used to devour chicken (teriyaki-style) back in Hawaii!

  6. I agree about the chicken. It's not my favorite meat of choice, but why do I cook it soooo much? Because it's convenient. Though I have to say your recipe makes it look a lot more appetizing than a mediocre marinated chicken breast.

  7. Faith, I never thought of soaking chicken, but I guess it's a sort of brine and makes perfect sense!

    Ivan, good to hear from you! What's new in the restaurant world in Naples?



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