Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chicken & Shrimp with Pancetta Chimichurri

Chicken & Shrimp with Pancetta Chimichurri 2

Another week of cooking with Giada de Laurentiis rolls around at I Heart Cooking Clubs, and our theme this week is "Out of Italy", the mission - cook any Giada de Laurentiis recipe that is not Italian in origin.  As I am still waiting for my copy of Giada's Kitchen to arrive (when you live at the bottom of the world, these things take time), I had a bit of a trawl through some of Giada's recipes on  the Food Network website where I came across this recipe for Chicken and Shrimp with Pancetta Chimichurri from the "Rock the Block" episode of Giada at Home on Food Network.

Chimichurri is originally from Argentina and Uruguay, though I believe it also crops up in Nicaraguan and Mexican food, and is often used as a marinade for meats.  Now let me tell you that I have never had chimichurri before, so I have nothing to compare it to, and have no idea what an authentic chimichurri should taste like.  But somehow in my mind I always imagined that it would be quite a peppy and fiery kind of sauce.  This version certainly isn't either of those things.  That said, there was nothing wrong with it;  in fact, I enjoyed it and it went perfectly with the chicken and shrimp - it didn't need to to more fiery or more peppy - just saying, if that's what you're expecting you're not going to find it here.

I served this with some Saffron Rice with Nuts, inspired by this recipe by Nigella Lawson for a Saffron-Scented Chicken Pilaf (minus the chicken), and a Citrus Salad from the California Light & Healthy episode of Giada at Home on Food Network.

All in all, this was a great dish, the kind of dish that is easy to make just for two or make for a crowd, and this one has definitely made it onto my list of "regulars".  The only, slightly negative comment I would make is that, even though I am definitely in the "almost anything can be improved with bacon" camp, this was not the case here.  The recipe calls for sprinkling some crispy pancetta (I used smoky bacon because that's what I had on hand) over the finished dish - I didn't find that this enhanced the dish in any way, either texturally or flavourwise and, almost but not quite, detracted from it ever so slightly.  Maybe this was the case because I had quite a lot going on with the rice, but next time I will almost certainly leave it out - I really think it is just an unnecessary ingredient here, but you make your own judgement about that.  If you make this I'd love to know what you think - bacon, or no bacon?

Chicken & Shrimp with Pancetta Chimichurri Recipe
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

Quantities are easily adjustable to serve as many people as you like - for each person allow:
1x boneless and skinless chicken breast (preferably free-range)
125g (4.5 oz) shrimp, peeled and deveined
dried oregano
flaky sea salt
freshly ground pepper
olive oil

For Chimichurri (makes enough for 6-8 servings)
2 tablespoons olive oil
250g (8oz) pancetta, cut into small cubes (or smoky bacon, finely sliced)
3 cloves garlic
1 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup fresh oregano leaves (or 2 tablespoons dried oregano)
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
flaky sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Firstly prepare the chimichurri.  Put the garlic, parsley, oregano, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth.  Season to taste with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat a grill pan over high heat.

Drizzle olive oil over the chicken and shrimp, sprinkle over some dried oregano, flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Toss well to coat everything thoroughly.

Once the pan is hot, grill the chicken until cooked through - about 5 or 6 minutes each side.  Set aside to rest while you grill the shrimp until they turn pink and are cooked through - just 1 or 2 minutes each side.

Chicken & Shrimp with Pancetta Chimichurri 3

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat, add the pancetta, and cook until browned and crispy.  Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Slice the chicken on the diagonal and arrange on a serving platter with the shrimp.  Drizzle with the chimichurri, and sprinkle the pancetta over the top.

Chicken & Shrimp with Pancetta Chimichurri 1

I served this over the top of the Saffron Rice recipe which follows.  This was a great accompaniment, but you could just as easily serve this with plain steamed rice or some pasta.

Saffron Rice with Nuts
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
(vegan, vegetarian)

A small handful each of roasted almonds, roasted cashews and pistachios
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups vegetable stock, heated
pinch saffron threads
large handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Coarsely chop nuts - not too much - you still want them in fairly recognisable sized pieces.

Saffron Rice with Nuts 3

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over high heat, and once hot add the rice to the pan and stir until all the grains are well coated with the oil.  Add the hot stock and saffron to the pan, bring up to the boil, put the lid on the pan, and turn heat down to very low.  Cook until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked through and fluffy - about 10 minutes.

Saffron Rice with Nuts 2

Remove from the heat, add the nuts and chopped flat-leaf parsley, and gently stir through using a fork.  Serve immediately.

Saffron Rice with Nuts 1

Any simple green salad would be great with this dish, but I had some lovely fresh fennel from the Farmers Market that I wanted to use, so found this citrus salad was a great choice.  I loved this salad and know that I will be making it many times over during the next few months while fennel is around.  The original recipe called for the inclusion of some toasted walnuts which I left out since I already had lots of nuts going into the rice dish.  Having now tasted the salad I think that if you were going to put any nuts at all in this, which quite frankly I don't think it needs, I would use toasted pine nuts instead - just don't think walnuts is quite right for this, but feel free to try.  On the other hand, I can imagine that some black olives and fried haloumi would make great additions to this salad to serve on its own as a light meal or as an accompaniment to a simple fish dish such as a piece of grilled salmon.  Also the original recipe called for just one orange and one grapefruit - I found that the proportion of fruit to fennel was not quite right for my liking, so I also added one tangelo.  Feel free to adjust this to your own tastes.

Citrus Salad
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
(vegan, vegetarian)

1 large orange, peel and all white pith removed
1 pink grapefruit, peel and all white pith removed
1 tangelo, peel and all white pith removed
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
flaky sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or toasted chopped walnuts (optional)

Place a sieve over a medium sized bowl.  Hold the peeled orange over the bowl and, using a sharp knife, cut down between the membrane and segment of fruit on each side to separate the fruit entirely from the membrane, and let the fruit segments fall into the sieve.  Squeeze the membrane over the bowl, extracting as much juice from it as you can.  Repeat with the grapefruit, and then with the tangelo, in each case also squeezing all of the juice out of the membrane.

Reserve the juice in the bowl, and put the fruit segments from the sieve into another bowl, along with the sliced fennel.

Citrus Salad 2

Using a food processor or blender, blend together the extra virgin olive oil, basil, and 3 tablespoons of the reserved citrus juice.  Season to taste with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and pour over the salad, tossing gently to combine.  Add the toasted nuts if using.

Citrus Salad 1

Interested in getting to know Giada a bit better?  Then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all been cooking up ....


.... or check out Giada's Kitchen and many of her other titles, available from Amazon, Book Depository UK and Fishpond NZ

Giada's Kitchen: New Italian Favorites    Giada at Home: Family Recipes from Italy and California    Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes


  1. Sue, even though I obviously haven't had this dish, I agree with you anyway regarding the bacon, lol. Just reading the recipe, the bacon just doesn't seem to go, does it? I've never had chimichurra either and yes, I always just assumed it was spicy. I would love to try it sometimes. Your dish looks gorgeous, you always eat so healthy!! I could learn from you, lol. Hope you're having a lovely weekend!

  2. It does sound like it didn't need the bacon.

  3. Sue, I agree too - no need for the bacon - but right now I *need* the rest - it looks really good. I was thinking chimichanga - a burrito thingy my husband orders - this is so much better!

  4. Great - that's three votes so far for no bacon.

    Thanks Brenda. Isn't it funny how we sometimes make assumptions about things for no particular reason - don't know why I expected it to be spicy. Mmmm - I do try to keep meals reasonably healthy, but it doesn't always work out that way :-)

    Christy - oooh chimichanga sounds good - I've never tried making those.


  5. Make it 4 for no bacon--usually I think it makes everything better but this has enough going on as it is. The chimichurri sauces I have had before have always been more green, herbal and slightly tangy rather than spicy but I do not claim to be an authority in any way. ;-) The whole meal looks refreshing and good. Great picks!

  6. Hi Sue :-)

    You and I were definitely destined to meet! I just did a version of the grapefruit and fennel a few days ago - served on halibut from Giada's Kitchen.

    Tonight my husband and I made Salmon in Lemon Brodetto with Pea Puree, again from Giada's Kitchen. It was my first time with pea puree and both of us loved it!

    All of your food looks wonderful.

    Love your cooking philosophy and look forward to getting to know you better...

  7. PS... Eat Pray Love is one of my favourite books.

    I still want to cry over a pizza and continue to ponder what my city is.

  8. I never had chimichurri either, but i think the recipe doesn't need it. Great combination with the Rice and salad.

  9. A few years ago, I had empanadas & chimichurri sauce at an Argentian restaurant in Miami, and I expected really spicy, too, but it wasn't. It was very garlic & parsley flavored, though, and I loved it. I think the bacon is unnecessary, too. The dish looks delicious.

  10. wow, this is a meal my husband and I would love to share!

  11. I think my family would like this. Very much. In agreement that this dish doesn't *need* the bacon. But I'd have to give it a try both know ...just to be sure ;-)

  12. Sue - The shrimp and chicken look wonderful on their own and I can certainly see how the bacon would overpower this dish. Saying that, I'd love to try this recipe. The flavors do seem so clean and healthy. I love that you combined two of my favorite ladies: Giada and Nigella! Everything looks delicious.

  13. I have only had chimichurri once, I seem to remember it being very herbal, lots of parsley (and maybe cilantro?) I forget.
    I love the whole meal! So varied in textures and flavours. Great job!

  14. Wow, your meal looks absolutely divine! No bacon for me, as I think the chicken and shrimp are already delicious and perfectly complete! I love the rice and the salad too! Would love to be your guest at your dinner table! ^..^

  15. This looks so delicious, I just can't tell you. I have to try this. We make a lot of ethnic food around here as we love a great variety of tastes. I'm sure we'll love this.

  16. You really cooked out of Italy with this! In fact, you migrated all the way to Argentina! I love a good chimichurri and this whole meal sounds fantastic.

  17. What a delicious-sounding meal! The chicken + shrimp, the citrus salad, and especially the saffron rice - yum!

  18. Sue, I would omit the bacon and the chicken:) I know, but I love me some shrimp! And yours look so wonderfully, pinky good:)
    I had chimichurri sauce in an Argentinian restaurant in Frankfurt several years ago and that's my only "authentic" experience.

    My husband made it the other night, and it was not what I expected. I know that it's supposed to be herby, with a lot of parsley and garlic, fresh, pungent, but not spicy. I have several recipes bookmarked - just waiting their turn, patiently:)

    I like this "proximity" in time zones, even though we are on opposite hemispheres ( I never go to bed early, and it seems that you are an early riser:)

  19. Wow, everything is stunning. I've never seen citrus salad with fennel, but that is a great idea.

  20. Those photos tell us, all is well, with these foods. Another vote to let the bacon go.

    Nigella and Giada owe you thanks for representing their recipes, beautifully.

  21. Well, it looks as though on this rare occasion, we are all in agreement that bacon is unnecessary - it almost seems sacrilegious to say so, but here I think it's true.

    Thank you all so much for visiting, and for so many really lovely, and very kind comments - I am really humbled.



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