Food, Wine & Just Good Living With SaucyJoe

It started with a love of food, wine & fun and blossomed into a maddening pursuit of the best recipes, techniques, grills, smokers, wines, crafted beers, rubs, marinades and sauces... We do more than play with our meat though -- we review and discuss all things cooking, drinking, reading, laughing and living at SaucyJoe's.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Comfort Food Revisited

I tried a recipe I found in the last couple of pages of the September issue of Bon Appetit magazine. I was drawn in by its' comfort food appeal and sold on it when I found out that I have to grill the chicken. Bonus!

I grilled the chicken breasts low, slow and smokey! I had a foil pack full of soaked mesquite wood chips smoking during the whole cooking process and that gave the chicken some additional flavor. I held off from using the full four cups of whipping cream. I didn't want the gang feeling heavy and sluggish after the meal, so I used one cup of whipping cream and three cups of skim milk. I didn't notice a lack of flavor at all. The richness of the Fontina and Cheedar Chesse made up for any loss.

I poorly timed this recipe and thus didn't find much comfort in the cooking process. My suggestion is to plan and prep ahead of time. Cook the chicken earlier in the day, dice it up and give it a minute in the microwave before adding to the dish. The broccoli can be cut earlier in the day and cooked the same time as the pasta. Make sure not to overcook the crisp-tender broccoli. I overcooked the broccoli and it disintegrated when I mixed well. Unless you can keep up with the blow and go demands of this recipe, I'd have all of your prep items done and just waiting until you need them. Peaceful cooking and comfort food go well together. This one will be a regular in the cooking line-up so I think practice will make it much easier. Ooops! Forgot to mention that I skipped on the Chives. I wasn't going to push it with the kids! I'm sure it would add a subtle flavor that I'd like to try sometime.

Prep: 40 minutes (mine was more!)
6 servings

-1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts
-olive oil (for brushing)
-2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets (about 5 cups)

-2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
-2 tablespoons all purpose flour
-4 cups whipping cream
-1 cup grated Fontina cheese (about 4 ounces)
-1 cup grated cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
-1 pound pasta shells, freshly cooked
-1/2 bunch fresh chives, chopped

The Work:
Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Bursh both sides with olive oil. Grill untill cooked through, about 6 minutes per side. Dice chicken and set aside. Cook broccoli in medium pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about three minutes. Set aside.

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually mix in cream. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add both cheeses and stir until sauce is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Carefully add pasta, chicken and broccoli to sauce; mix well. Garnish with chives and serve.

Clean Up:
You'll be using most of the burners for this one and at least two big pots. We had a big splash when the pasta was added, thus stovetop clean-up. thanks Ski for cleaning up the cheese puddle!! The finished product does leave a gooey pan after you've stored the leftovers - if you have them. You'll have additional plates from the grilling, plus the tongs. The happiness of comfort food is that people are happier and willing to help with cleanup... unless they've eaten too much and are snoozin' on the couch.



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