Lentils, power outages and food dreams

August 28, 2007 · 0 comments

in beans and legumes,chicken/poultry,italian

Well, as many of you may have heard by now, Chicago experienced some major storms and tornadoes last week. As a result, we were without power for about 35 hours. You know what that means? We lost everything in our fridge/freezer, save for a condiment and vegetable or two. Ugh, I hate wasting food! On Thursday night, when we first lost power, I cooked by candlelight, mainly because we were starving and had limited (read: no) other options but also because I am a little bit crazy. So, we had some linguini with asparagus, grape tomatoes, lemon and cheese. And that was the last time I cooked.

This lack of cooking has apparently taken its toll on me, even in my sleep. See, most people have dreams about friends or relatives, even celebrities and animals. Me? I had a dream last night that I shared an apartment complex with some of my favorite foodies in the blogosphere–Jenn the Leftover Queen, Amanda at Figs Olives Wine and Kate over ate Paved With Good Intentions. Now, tell me that wouldn’t be the best apartment complex ever. Talk about some great food.

Anyway, back to business. You may have noticed I have been trying recipes a lot more than I usually do. This is do largely to the fact that we got a new computer and when I was transferring my favorites over I realized I had entirely too many recipes saved that I wanted to try, so I am slowly making my way through some of the more intriguing ones.

Both of the recipes from tonight’s meal–chicken valdostana with braised lentils–come from Epicurious, but I have modified them both (surprised?), the lentils more than the chicken. I used the same basic ingredients and flavors, but I wasn’t a big fan of Epicurious’s cooking method, which entailed boiling the celery, onions and carrots with the lentils. I am not one for mushy carrots and, besides, I think sauteing the vegetables gives the dish a better flavor overall. I haven’t had lentils in easily a decade. I think they are one of those foods I didn’t think I was crazy about. While they are not my favorite, I do think they are a great change of pace and not to mention so good for you. This is a really great recipe for easing your way into lentils and I think it’s delicious. It’s also a great complement to the chicken voldostana. I am putting a vegetarian tag on this post, not because I think chicken is vegetarian but because I think the lentils are really good and filling and would be a delicious veggie meal.

Below are my versions, also scaled to two portions.

Chicken Breast Valdostana

Adapted from Epicurious

2 b/s chicken breast halves
2 thin slices prosicutto
flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1/2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 thin slices fontina cheese
1/4 cup diced tomatoes, seasoned lightly with salt and pepper
2 tsp. grated romano

Preheat oven to 375.

Fit a piece of prosciutto over each chicken breast, so the slice of prosciutto is as close as possible to the size of the chicken breat. Using the back of a knife or the flat side of a mallet, pound the chicken lightly, just to get the prosciutto to adhere.

Dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour.

Heat a skillet over moderate heat and add the butter and olive oil. When the butter is foaming, add the chicken, prosciutto side down.

Cook chicken for about 2 minutes before flipping and browning on other side for an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove chicken.

To the pan, add the chicken stock and wine. Cook over medium high heat until reduced by half.

Place the chicken back in the skillet and top each breast with 1 slice of fontina, 2 Tbsp. of diced tomatoes and 1 tsp. grated cheese.

Put the skillet in the oven and cook until chicken is done, about 15 minutes.


Braised Lentils with Spinach

Adapted from Epicurious

1/2 cup brown lentils
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. olive oil
1 sprig thyme or a pinch of dried
1 small carrot, diced
1 small piece celery, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
4-5 mushrooms, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup fresh spinach, shredded or chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Place lentils and bay leaf in a small pan and pour cold water in the pan so that it reaches about 3″ above the lentils. Cook at a rolling boil until lentils are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over moderate heat and add olive oil and thyme. Saute the onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms until tender.

Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add lentils and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and cook until liquid is reduced enough to coat lentils–a couple minutes. Add spinach and cook until just wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve: spoon lentils onto a plate, top with chicken and spoon sauce from chicken over entire dish.

 

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