Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chicken Saute with Carrots, Leeks, Mustard & Cream

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I was updating my recipe page recently and was surprised by how few chicken recipes there are. We actually eat quite a bit of chicken, but I suppose I tend to just make the same preparations time and again - barbecued chicken, chicken cutlets with garlic and white wine... The realization made me look for some new recipes and I came across this one in a book my mom had given me a few years ago called Easy Comfort Food. The book is chock full of braises, bakes, roasts - all meals that will soothe the soul after a long day. This one is pretty simple - most of the ingredients are common pantry ingredients and I only made a few small modifications from the original...

You can skip broiling the chicken at the end if you want to save time. We like love crispy chicken skin so I wanted to crisp it before serving. I served the dish with some crusty bread and a simple green salad.

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Chicken Saute with Carrots, Leeks, Mustard & Cream
adapted from Easy Comfort Food

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
8-10 chicken thighs, or a combination of thighs and legs
salt and pepper
10 oz. carrots, peeled and thickly sliced at an angle
10 oz. leeks, white and pale green parts only, cut into 1-inch slices
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup dry white wine
a handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
1-2 Tbsp. whole grain Dijon mustard
Additional parsley for garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a wide shallow pan with a lid, large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer. Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 3-6 minutes per side. Work in batches if necessary. Remove chicken to a plate.

Add the carrots and leeks to the pan and cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and a little salt and cook for 1-2 minutes more, stirring so the garlic doesn't burn. Add the wine and stir, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan.

Return the chicken to the pan and bury under the vegetables. Add the parsley, cover, and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Remove the chicken with tongs. Raise the heat and reduce slightly, about 8-10 minutes. At this point, if you want to crisp the chicken skin, put the chicken, skin side up, on a baking sheet and broil until crispy. Stir in the cream and mustard and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the vegetables and sauce over the chicken.

Serves 4.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Truffled Lobster Mac 'n' Cheese with Crispy Pancetta

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We spent a week last fall on Martha's Vineyard - just the three of us. It was a fabulous relaxing week. We enjoyed a lot of local seafood, but one of the most memorable for my husband was the lobster mac 'n' cheese he had at the Newes Pub in Edgartown. It was creamy and cheesy with big chunks of lobster. So, when we got home, I had to give it a shot.

For my first attempt, I looked for a recipe but decided to stick with my trusted mac'n'cheese and just add some chunks of lobster. It was good, but not great. I recently tried again and this time drizzled it with a little white truffle oil and topped it not only with fresh bread crumbs, but also some crispy pancetta. Voila! It was a hit. The truffle oil gave it another level of richness and a little luxuriousness and the pancetta gave it a salty bite. Perfect-o!

I like to steam my own lobsters. When making it for mac'n'cheese, I cook them a minute less than I would if we were just eating them steamed. The lobster will cook a little more while the mac'n'cheese bakes. You can also do the lobsters a day ahead, just shell them and reserve the meat. And don't forget the juicy bits in the legs... Roll over each with a rolling pin and you'll be surprised how much meat squeezes out!

Truffled Lobster Mac 'n' Cheese with Crispy Pancetta

Meat from 2 1-1/2 pound lobsters, torn into 1-inch chunks
3 oz. pancetta, cubed
4 slices white bread, cubed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 1/2 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
3 Tbsp. flour
2 cups milk, preferably whole
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
12 oz. medium shells, cooked to al dente
White truffle oil, optional

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a frying pan, brown the pancetta until crisp then drain on paper towels. Set aside.

Drain excess grease then add olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of butter to the pan. And the bread cubes and cook until golden. Remove from pan and set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the garlic and mustard and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in the flour and continue whisking until a paste is formed. Stir in the milk and increase heat. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stair in both cheeses.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, cheese sauce and reserved lobster. Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle with the bread cubes and pancetta.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. To serve, scoop mac 'n' cheese into large bowls and drizzle with white truffle oil.

Serves 4.
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