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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Creamy Chicken Pasta




Pasta...Who doesn't love it? Creamy pasta? Even better. Creamy pasta with chicken? Hello Tuesday night dinner!

Here's what we need:
1 lb long pasta, 1 onion, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 2 Tbls butter, 1 Tbls olive oil, 3 cloves garlic, 1 cup chicken or beef broth, 1/4 cup heavy cream, 2 Tbls truffle butter (optional), 1/3 cup sherry, 2 Tbls flour, Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, 5 sprigs fresh thyme, Fresh parsley and chopped scallions for garnish, 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Let's start with the chicken. If you have leftover rotisserie chicken, use that and save yourself a step. 
You must rinse and dry your chicken prior to putting it into the hot skillet. Season it up on one side with a good pinch of Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
O.K. That's a lot of salt on that middle piece. I was trying to take a pic and salt the chicken at the same time. I spread it around to the other pieces. Really, I did! If you touch the chicken, as I did, wash your hands with soap before touching anything else.
Now, get yourself a 12 inch, deep skillet. Heat it up over medium/high heat, and add 1 Tbls olive oil and 2 Tbls butter. The butter helps to brown the chicken, and the olive oil raises the smoking point so the butter won't burn.
See how the butter is brown, not burned? That will add some good flavor.
Take another look.
Swirl the oil/butter around in the pan. Add the chicken, seasoned side down, into the hot skillet.

Because chicken doesn't have a lot of flavor, we have to give it some.
So, season up the other side with more salt and pepper.
We're going for brown here, not done. After about 5 minutes, pick up a piece and check it for color. It should be golden brown. Brown food tastes good.
Flip over the chicken pieces when brown.
Can you see how the chicken is raw? That's good. The browning will give it flavor. The oven will make it tender.

When both sides are brown, place them in an oven proof dish, cover with foil, and put them in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. NO longer! Take the chicken out of the oven, put it on a cutting board, cover it with foil or a bowl,  and let it rest while you finish off your dish. Don't worry about it getting cold. It will reheat in the pasta.

O.K. Chicken is in the oven. Get a pasta pot on the stove. Season up the water with a great big handful of Kosher salt. It should taste like the sea. 
One of the reasons I didn't just stick the skillet in the oven to finish the chicken is because I want all the flavor left in the bottom of the skillet to flavor my sauce. That's good stuff right there.
Chop up an onion, any color, add a pinch of salt, and sauté over medium heat. If you season as you go along, your food will taste well seasoned. If you just add salt at the end, your food just tastes salty.
When the onions are translucent and soft, throw in the sliced Cremini (baby bella) mushrooms.
Add a pinch of Kosher salt and some fresh ground pepper.
Turn the heat up to medium/high. We want these babies to get brown. Mushrooms have a huge water content, which you need to get out.
Give them a good stir. While your mushrooms hang out. Prep the garlic.
Take the flat blade of your chef knife, put it on top of the garlic clove, and give it a whack.
The peel will come right off. Mince it up and throw it on the browned mushrooms.


Take about 5 stems fresh Thyme and peel off the leaves, and toss them into the skillet. If you don't have any fresh thyme, use dry. No dry thyme? Use something green from the pantry; 
Herbes de Provence, Italian seasoning, etc.

See how brown the mushrooms are? That's what you want. Caramelization  = flavor.

Once all the liquid from the mushrooms has cooked out, it's time to add the sherry. No sherry? Use white wine. Turn off the flame while pouring so you don't set your hair on fire. yep. It's happened.
After the sherry is safely in the skillet, turn on the heat to medium/high. Cook it out.
Now, sprinkle the flour over the top of the mushroom mixture.
Stir it in.
When the flour is completely incorporated...
Pour in the broth. Start with a cup, and add more as needed to make a creamy sauce.
Stir it in. If you have truffle butter, add it now. If you don't have any, leave it out.
Stir it in. Then add one can cream of mushroom soup. If you don't have any? Leave it out.
Stir. Pour in 1/4 cup heavy cream. Don't have any? Leave it out. Got some sour cream? Use 1/2 cup of that. YUM!

Taste. Re-season if necessary.
Drain your cooked pasta, (Linguine, fettucine, spaghetti, etc), and put it right in the skillet with the sauce. Toss with tongs.  I added a handful of frozen peas, just because I like them.
Chop up the chicken and add it to the skillet. Finish it off with some fresh chopped parsley and chives.


I served this with sourdough toasts and a salad with baby lettuce, pears, cambozola cheese, & toasted walnuts in a balsamic vinaigrette.
This whole dinner comes together in under an hour.
Bon Appétit!

Ingredients:
1 lb long pasta
1 onion 
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 Tbls butter 
1 Tbls olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 cup chicken or beef broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbls truffle butter (optional)
1/3 cup sherry
2 Tbls flour
5 sprigs fresh thyme 
Fresh parsley and chopped scallions for garnish
 Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs


Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Rinse, dry, and season chicken with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
  3. Heat up a large, deep skillet over medium/high heat.
  4. Add 1 Tbls olive oil and 2 Tbls butter.
  5. Add the chicken, seasoned side down, into the hot skillet.
  6. Flip the chicken pieces over when brown.
  7. When both sides are brown, place them in an oven proof dish, cover with foil, and put them in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. 
  8. Remove chicken to a cutting board and cover with foil.
  9. Chop up an onion, any color, add a pinch of salt, and sauté over medium heat.
  10. When the onions are translucent and soft, add the sliced Cremini (baby bella) mushrooms to the skillet. Add a pinch of Kosher salt and some fresh ground pepper. Turn the heat up to medium/high.
  11. Add 3 cloves minced garlic when the mushrooms are brown and the liquid has cooked out.
  12. Add sherry off flame. Turn heat back on to med/high. Cook until absorbed.
  13. Sprinkle with flour. Stir until incorporated.
  14. Add broth. Stir until creamy.
  15. Stir in truffle butter, cream of mushroom soup, and heavy cream.
  16. Cook and drain pasta. Add to skillet.
  17. Chop chicken and add to skillet.
  18. Toss with tongs.
  19. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and scallions.








Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Asian Slaw Won Tons



This yummy appetizer's inspiration came from a Vietnamese Spring roll recipe I found at www.epicurious.com, and came from Bon Apettit, Feb, 2003. 
Of course, I had to change it up a bit. Rice paper sheets can be tough to work with, and I'm not terribly enthused about a tedious, and very time consuming process. So, I subbed won ton papers, baked them off, and filled them. 

Here goes:
For the slaw:
1/2 box (4) ounces Thai thin rice noodles, boiled for 5 minutes, drained and chopped
1/2 head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1 red and one orange pepper, very thinly sliced into matchstick size
1 & 1/2 cup bean sprouts, chopped coarsely
1 English cucumber, seeded and sliced into matchstick size
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
4 green onions, sliced thinly
1 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro finely chopped
1 pound cooked, peeled, deveined shrimp, tails on 

For the Sauce:
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbls fermented fish sauce (Nam Pla)
2 Tbls rice vinegar
2 Tbls fresh cilantro, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press

1 Tbls garlic chili sauce
1 tsp crushed red pepper 
1 tsp sriracha sauce

Method: 
Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold the shrimp, and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
Taste. Re season to your liking. If you want more heat, add a pinch more crushed red pepper. Not sweet enough, add a bit more sugar. Not tangy enough, add a splash more rice vinegar.

For the Won Ton cups: 
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees (F).
Start with one package of Won Tons. You can find them in the produce section of most grocery stores.
Get out your silpat, or any other relatively non stick surface, and pour some canola on it.
Lay out some won Ton wrappers, and brush them lightly with oil. 
So, here's how it really went: After brushing the wrapper, they seemed to be dripping in oil. Not what I was after. Then, I oiled up my hands, and rubbed each wrapper, just to get a light coat. That worked.
Now press wrapper into a regular size, non stick muffin cup.
Make sure to press it down pretty well, or the sides may fold over, into the cup. Not good.
Put the muffin tins in the pre-heated oven, on the middle rack.
See the bottom rack? It's evil and will burn your cups!
Bake for 5 to 6 minutes until cups are golden brown and crisp.
Cool.

Method for the Slaw:
Rinse the cooked shrimp under cold water. If frozen, this will thaw them.
Lay them out on a clean towel (or paper towels) to dry.

Put the shrimp into the sauce, place it in the fridge, and carry on prepping the veg.

Boil the rice noodles in salted water for 5 minutes until tender. Rinse with cold water, chop, and place in your big bowl.
 Start by Julienning the English cucumber. (If you use a regular cucumber, scrape all the seeds out with a melon baller).
I used a Mandoline because it's super fast to shred the cuke. The mandoline does not work well for the peppers, or the cabbage. If you don't have a mandoline, no big deal. Just Julienne them finely. No need to peel.
Put the shredded cucumbers on a plate lined with about 8 paper towels and sprinkle  with a good pinch of salt. Let them hang out while you chop up the rest of the veg.
Chop up the herbs. Take your basil leaves and stack them on top of one another, the roll them up.
Now, just slice through the roll.
For the mint, pull the leaves off of the stems and chop them up finely.
Put the thinly sliced cabbage, chopped bean sprouts, match stick size pepper strips, grated carrot, and chopped herbs in a big bowl.
Let's get back to the cucumbers. They are chock full of water, so you need to squeeze as much water out as possible. Roll up in the stack of paper towels and wring out over the sink. Dump them onto a clean dry stack of towels and repeat.
Mix all the ingredients in the bowl and toss.


Let's put these babies together.
Remove the shrimp from the sauce and put them on a plate. 
Pour the sauce over the veg and noodles in the big bowl. Toss with tongs to get the sauce all through the mix.

Take a won ton cup, and place one shrimp in it, tail up.
 Pick up a handful of slaw and squeeze out the excess sauce, and put it in the cup.

Place the filled cups on a pretty platter.
 And serve. This recipe makes about 36 appetizers.

The slaw itself is outstanding on it's own. As a main or a side dish, just chop up the ingredients, but not so finely, add the shrimp, tails off, and toss.
If you have a fish allergy, sub chopped cooked chicken or pork for the shrimp, and leave out the fish sauce.

Bon Appetit!


Ingredients; Sauce


1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbls fermented fish sauce (Nam Pla)
2 Tbls rice vinegar
2 Tbls fresh cilantro, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
1 Tbls garlic chili sauce
1 tsp crushed red pepper 
1 tsp sriracha sauce


Method: Sauce
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until sugar is dissolved.
Place cooked shrimp in sauce.
Refrigerate


Ingredients: Won Tons
1 package won ton wrappers
Canola oil


Method: Won Ton cups
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees (F).
Oil your hands with canola oil.
Rub each wrapper until moist.
Place in muffin cups.
Bake on middle rack for 5-6 minutes




Ingredients: Slaw


1/2 box (4) ounces Thai thin rice noodles, boiled for 5 minutes and drained
1/2 head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1 red and one orange pepper, very thinly sliced into matchstick size
1 & 1/2 cup bean sprouts, chopped coarsely
1 English cucumber, seeded and sliced into matchstick size
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
4 green onions, sliced thinly
1 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro finely chopped
1 pound cooked, peeled, deveined shrimp, tails on 

Method: Slaw
Boil the rice noodles in salted water for 5 minutes until tender. Rinse with cold water, chop.
Julienne the English cucumber. 
Put the shredded cucumbers on a plate lined with about 8 paper towels and sprinkle  with a good pinch of salt.
Roll up in the stack of paper towels and wring out over the sink. Dump them onto a clean dry stack of towels and repeat.


Chop up the herbs.
Mix all the ingredients in the bowl and toss.


Remove the shrimp from the sauce and put them on a plate. 
Pour the sauce over the veg and noodles.  Toss with tongs to get the sauce all through the mix.

Finish:

Take a won ton cup, and place one shrimp in it, tail up.
Pick up a handful of slaw and squeeze out the excess sauce, and put it in the cup.




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About Me

Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States
I'm a home cook that can put some good tasting food on the table, most of the time. My family knows dinner is ready when the fire alarm goes off.