Ham Tetrazzini

[Ham Tetrazzini]We hosted the family Christmas day gathering this year. We provided ham, popovers and egg noodles for my mom’s Swedish meatballs. At the end of the day there was ham and egg noodles leftover. So I took a page from Thanksgiving leftovers and made a tetrazzini type dish.

The butter, milk and cheese make this rich dish. Perfect for the week before New Year’s resolutions have us all eating kale-cauliflower-mango smoothies.

Ham Tetrazzini
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 10 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 sm. onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or just water if you have no broth)
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp. ground chipotle
  • 1/2 tsp. Hungarian paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 3 cups cooked ham, cubed
  • 4 cups cooked egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Melt 5 tablespoons butter in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until most of mushroom liquid has evaporated, 5-7 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onions, and cook until the onions begin to soften; another 5 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently, to get rid of the taste of raw flour. Add the broth and stir to start the sauce. Allow to cook for about 1 minute and add milk while stirring. Stir in the chipotle, paprika, pepper and vinegar. Adjust the heat for a simmer and cook for 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
  3. Add the ham, noodles and parsley. Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes to reheat the ham/noodles.
  4. While the ham/noodles reheat toast the breadcrumbs. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter over medium heat in a skillet. Add the breadcrumbs and use a spatula to coat the breadcrumbs in the melted butter. Heat, stirring frequently, until the breadcrumbs are browned to your liking. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  5. To serve spoon up a generous helping in a bowl. Sprinkle with Parmesan and toasted breadcrumbs. A few grinds of fresh black pepper never hurt anyone either.

Notes:
I would normally salt the mushrooms and onions while sauteing them as it helps draw out the moisture. That said this is already going to be a salty dish with the broth (unless it is homemade), ham and Parmesan. Leaving the salt out means it’ll take a little longer to cook down the mushrooms and onions. Patience, and temperature control, are your friend.

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Chicken and Stuffing Bake

I appear to be on a streak of nostalgia led cooking. I remember having a dish like this on a retreat in my late teens. Simple food, prepared well, with a lot of flavor.

Every recipes I found online for “chicken and stuffing bake” put the chicken on the bottom, added condensed soup on top of the chicken and then piled the store bought stuffing on top of that. That did not match my memory or desire so I made it up as I went. Not bad for a first pass though I missed couple of things which I’ve corrected in the recipe.

This recipe has several components so I’ve written each component in its own section with a final set of directions at the end of combining everything together.

Chicken and Stuffing Bake
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 2 hours

Stuffing Ingredients:

  • 12-16 cups bread cubes (I used a mix of sour dough and multi-grain bread)
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp. fresh sage
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 1 tsp. rosemary powder
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (chicken broth is OK too)
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Stuffing Directions

  • Preheat oven to 250°F. Distribute bread cubes in a single layer across 2 rimmed baking pans. Bake for 20 minutes, swapping the position of the pans halfway through.
  • While the bread cubes dry out heat the olive oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the carrots, celery and onions, sprinkle with salt and stir to coat with oil. Cook for ~10 minutes until carrots begin to soften and onions are translucent.
  • Add the butter, herbs, and broth. Bring to a simmer, stir so the butter is spread throughout the vegetables and taste. Add salt and pepper to your liking. Set aside.
  • When the bread cubes are done transfer them to the bottom of a large casserole dish. Add the veggie mixture and toss combine. Spread evenly across the bottom of the dish and set aside.

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 8 oz. baby portobella mushrooms, sliced and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup milk (anything but skim)
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Sauce Directions

  • Put the mushrooms in a microwave safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes on high. Drain liquid from the cooked mushrooms and set aside. Careful, that bowl will be hot.
  • Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat and add the shallots. Sprinkle with salt. Cook for 5 minutes until the shallots have softened and are beginning to brown.
  • Add the butter to the pan. When it is melted add the mushrooms and cook for another 5-10 minutes until they are browned. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms, stir until all the flour is moistened. Cook for about 1 minute to drive off the raw flour taste.
  • Add the broth to the pan and stir until combined. Add the milk and combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. The sauce will be slightly thickened. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. Set aside.

Final Ingredients:

  • 8 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Final Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Trim the chicken breasts of excess fat and cut in half across the middle of the breast.
  3. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Distribute the chicken pieces over the stuffing.
  4. Give the sauce a stir to reincorporate any “skin” that has formed on top. Pour the sauce over the chicken pieces. Use a spatula to smear sauce over to top of the pieces.
  5. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking.
  6. Remove the foil and continue cooking for another 10 minutes to lightly brown the top of the chicken. Check the chicken temperature; they should reach 160°F when fully cooked.
  7. If possible, allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve directly from the baking dish and enjoy.

Notes:
My estimates for total time here assume you don’t mind having multiple pans on the stove at one time. If you’d rather do everything in a serial fashion (make the stuffing, then make the sauce, then assemble and bake) add an extra 30 minutes.

Farro with Mushroom and Thyme

This recipe hails from a 2013 issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine. I made it shortly after first buying a bag of farro. In the Cook’s recipe they cook the farro as part of the recipe, in only 20 minutes. Ha! I found it took twice that time to get to an al dente texture. I now prepare my farro in advance, store it in the fridge for a day or two and have it ready to go.

Farro with Mushrooms and Thyme
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 10 oz. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced evenly
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. dry sherry
  • 2 cups prepared farro
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. cider vinegar
  • kosher salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the mushrooms, shallot, and thyme; sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and 10 grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid released by the mushrooms has evaporated and the vegetables have started to brown. This will take 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add the sherry to the pan and scrap up any browned bits (aka fond). Cook until the pan is almost dry, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the farro and toss until the ingredients are well combined. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring a few times, until the farro is heated through.
  4. Stir in the parsley and vinegar. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

Notes:
I’ve had good success by microwaving mushrooms in a covered bowl for 2-3 minutes on high. Drain the liquid, add to the hot fat and saute until browned, another 2 minutes. It can save 10 minutes or so on the dish.

Skillet Chicken, Veggies and Rice

[Chicken, veggies and rice]I wanted something simple for dinner and had chicken thighs thawing in the fridge. A trip to the grocery store yield mushrooms and a bit of inspiration from the canned soup aisle.

I have a fond memory for a baked chicken and rice dish that involved condensed cream of something soup. The strongest memory I have of it is from a youth retreat program from my late teens that had a strong influence on me. In the intervening years I’ve learned more than I want about how not-great-for-me condensed soup is and so I decided to try to make something similar with just chicken broth and water. The result was pretty good without the I’m eating what self-shame.

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Pork Tenderloin Wellington

I made this for Christmas Eve dinner with friends and it came out lovely. I wanted a pork based version of the classic Beef Wellington; surprisingly I didn’t find any clear examples of a Pork Wellington that used a traditional duxelle in my searches. So I combined a bit of this and a smidge from that for something that came out looking impressive and was really flavorful to boot.

[Pork Wellington]

Pork Wellington with roasted potatoes and cinnamon braised carrots.

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Chicken with Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Everyone, if I generalize very broadly, wants an easily prepared weeknight meal. Often times, for me at least, that means buying some random things during a recent shopping trip and then trying to figure out what to do with them. Tonight’s rendition of weeknight roulette included some aged leeks (as in I bought them a couple of weeks ago and should have used them earlier), mushroom, cherry tomatoes from the garden and some frozen chicken thighs that I left to thaw earlier in the day.

Chicken with Mushrooms and Tomatoes
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 4 strips of bacon, roughly chopped
  • 4 boneless/skinless chicken thighs
  • 12 oz. cremini mushrooms, stems removed, tops quartered
  • 3 leeks, quartered, cleaned and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 onion, 1/2″ dice
  • 1 Serrano chile, seeded and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat with 1 teaspoon of oil. Add the bacon, toss in the oil and cook under crispy (about 5 minutes). Remove the bacon bits to a paper towel lined bowl, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible.
  2. While the bacon cooks put the mushrooms in a microwave safe bowl and cook, uncovered, in the microwave on high for 4 minutes. Drain mushrooms and hold.
  3. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Transfer to the hot skillet, seasoned side down. Cook, undisturbed for 5 minutes. Sprinkle second side with salt and pepper and flip the thighs over. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes; you want the internal temp of the thighs to reach 170°F. Transfer to a cutting board and cover while you finish the dish.
  4. Add the onions & pepper to the skillet along with about 1/2 cup of water. Scrape the bottom of the skillet to incorporate any fond that may have collected on the bottom of the pan. Add the leek, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and a dozen grinds of pepper. Stir to combine, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Chop chicken into 1/2″ pieces and return to the skillet. Stir chicken into the vegetable mixture. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to you liking. Serve with the reserved crispy bacon bits.

Notes:
Frozen chicken thighs from the big box warehouse store are a convenience not to be overlooked. The ones I pick up come boneless & skinless in a 4-pack. When I remember I take them out of the freezer a couple of days in advance so they can thaw in the fridge. When I don’t remember I use a trick from Cook’s Illustrated (which picked it up from Harold McGee) where you place the well wrapped frozen item in hot water for 10-12 minutes. According to the article, and various research, the quick thaw time isn’t enough time for bacteria to grow. It works for me in a pinch.

As I was cooking this I also prepared some basic white rice (Bring 2 cups water, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1 Tbsp. oil to a boil. Add 1 cup white rice, stir. Reduce heat to a simmer; cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.) At the last moment I decided to add the rice into the chicken and vegetable mixture. I minute of careful stirring and it was done. Plus all of the rice will be eaten. 🙂

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Bacon Barley

This recipe has either a small amount of prep and a lot of cooking OR a large amount of prep and comes together real quick. Either way there is a lot of time in between cooking the components to do other things.

[Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Bacon Barley]

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Bacon Barley

As you can see, I made this in an electric skillet. Well, I baked the barley. I probably could have done the whole thing in the skillet though. Something to think about for another time.

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