Trinity at City Beach was our favorite Sandpoint restaurant in the gorgeous Northern Idaho resort town. We finally nailed our favorite dish.
THE RAMBLE: WINNER FOR TEAM SPAIN!
LET’S TALK ABOUT fresh, seasonal, delicious Napa-style cuisine. Even though this restaurant was in Northern Idaho, we should maybe call it Northwest cuisine, or even maybe stretch it to Pacific Northwest cuisine, which is fine, BUT is was on the lake’s beach and had clear Mediterranean-American fundamentals (like my Fleshes: Fruit + Meat from Around the Globe | Sage and Garlic Pork Loin with Berry Sauce and Tarragon Roasted Potatoes), so in my mind, that equals Napa cuisine, even if it’s not in Napa Valley or even California. Whether you agree with me or not, this dish is so easy and so killer-delicious.
LET’S TALK ABOUT the best part of this dish. The maple-chipotle vinaigrette had me for years. I knew it was sweet, spicy, a little tangy, so I finally looked up the dang menu from Trinity and saw pretty much what was in the entire dish. Pecan-crusted chicken, ok, I have two versions of nut-crusted chicken in the bible of recipe books, The Complete America’s Test KitchenTV Show Cookbook, then in the menu description, it told us the salad which had just mixed green, goat cheese, dried cherries, candied pecans, and bacon crumbles. I looked up a bunch of maple-chipotle vinaigrettes online, and they were all really similar, so I tired the very reliable site Epicurious‘ Maple Chipotle Vinaigrette and it was exactly the same. Was this really it? Is this all there is to it? We tried it, and we nailed it. I kept adding more and more greens to my plate the eat more of that amazing vinaigrette. We kept saying, “Dang, this is so good! We nailed it!” This is an impressive dish that is easy and done in about 40-45 minutes. Just make the coating, dredge your chicken, bake, mix up vinaigrette, dress salad, serve. Hopefully, this will inspire you to take a trip up to Sandpoint, ID to enjoy the beach, the charming shops, restaurants, skiing, boating, fishing, swimming, etc. and stop by Trinity at City Beach to enjoy their many amazing dishes (don’t worry, we are working on the rest of their menu!).
Going to Northern Idaho? Don’t forget the wonderful town of Coeur D’Alene about 50 minutes into Washington where you will fall in love with another charming downtown, beaches, parks, water playgrounds, and great restaurants. Then continue to Spokane where you will find food from all over the world, and enjoy a cool, old industrial city, and sites like the Riverfront Park.
WHO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT making great Napa-style food: Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa on Food Network for simple recipes @inagarten, and of course, Chef Thomas Keller @chef_keller of the iconic Napa restaurant, The French Laundry and recipe book The French Laundry Cookbook, Chef Christopher Kostow @TheRestaurantMWof his restaurant The Meadowood and his book A New Napa Cuisine, and Napa Valley Life Magazine for a voyeuristic read.
THE RECIPE:Pecan-Crusted Chicken With Maple-Chipotle Mixed Greens
Serves 4, easy-medium fuss, about 45 minutes to make.
Adapted from The Complete America’s Test KitchenTV Show Cookbook, easy-medium fuss, about 45 minutes to make.
4 (6-8 oz) boneless skinless chicken breasts, fat trimmed
2 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 cup pecans
4 TBS (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
3 TBS minced shallot
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp minced fresh or dried thyme leaves
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup AP flour
2 large eggs
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp black pepper
- Adjust oven rack to middle slot and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Set a wire baking rack over a lined baking sheet or a slotted roasting rack will work also.
- Pat your chicken dry with paper towels. Poke holes in the thickest part of the breast with a fork about 6 times, then sprinkle both sides with about 1/2 tsp salt. Place on wire rack or a plate and place uncovered in the fridge until ready to dredge.
- Pusle pecans in a food processor until they resemble coarse meal. In a skillet or large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until medium-dark golden brown and smells nutty, about 3-4 minutes. Watch carefully! Add shallot and remaining 1/2 tsp salt, cook about 3 minutes until soft and golden, stirring continually. Lower heat to medium-low to low, add breadcrumbs, ground pecans, and stir to coat evenly. Let everything lightly toast about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in lemon zest, thyme, and cayenne.
- Transfer crumb mixture to a shallow dish. Add eggs, mustard, splash of water, and pepper to a second shallow dish, beat together, and flour to a third shallow dish.
- Remove chicken from fridge, pat dry any moisture. Working with one at a time, dredge chicken into flour, shaking off excess, then into the egg mixture to evenly coat, allowing excess to drip off, then into crumb mixture, pressing in the crumbs until evenly coated. Place back onto wire rack or onto slotted roasting rack.
- Bake in the preheated oven about 20-25 minutes, or until chicken reaches 160 degrees F. Meanwhile, make the Vinaigrette and Mixed Greens. Let chicken rest a few minutes before serving.
Adapted from Epicurious, easy fuss, makes about 1 cup, about 5 minutes or less to make.
1/4 cup orange juice (about 1/2-1 orange)
2 TBS maple syrup
2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 TBS Sherry vinegar
1 TBS minced/grated shallot or red onion
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp chopped canned chipotle chile in adobo plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce*
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Add everything to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Alternatively, whisk all ingredients until smooth. Chill in fridge until ready to use. Can be kept for about 1 week in a sealed container in the fridge.
*(This is on the spicy side, so add just 1 tsp sauce [or to taste] if you want subtle spice. If you can’t find canned chipotles in adobo sauce in the Mexican food section of your grocery store, I also have sub’d 1 TBS taco sauce and 1/4 tsp chipotle pepper powder)
Adapted from Trinity at City Beach, easy fuss, serves 4, about 5 or less minutes to make.
about 8 packed cups mixed greens
about 12 dried cherries, roughly chopped (also whole fresh blueberries or chopped dried cranberries are great)
about 1/2 cup candied pecans
2 strips bacon, cooked until desired consistency, then cooled and crumbled
about 1/3 cup goat cheese or feta crumbles
(You can cook bacon along with Pecan-Crusted Chicken on brown baking paper or parchment paper-lined baking sheet, on a higher slot of oven when you put in the chicken, or cook bacon in a skillet over medium-low heat until desired consistency, turning once half-way through, about 10-15-20 minutes.)
- Just before serving, toss everything in a large bowl until evenly mixed, or divide everything up into 1/4s onto each individual plate. Drizzle with Maple-Chipotle Vinaigrette until just evenly coated, but not swimming, serve with chicken.