Weekly Winner – The Great Cover-Up

Curried Chicken and Potato Pie Just like the right outfit, phyllo dough can cover a multitude of sins.  It doesn’t really matter what is under or in it, it’s going to look fabulous.

In general, I hate working with phyllo.  I don’t know what I do wrong.  I know I have to cover the unused sheets to keep them from drying out, and I know I have to brush them each with butter (that’s what I love about phyllo), but mine always seems to start out crumbly and in shreds right out of the box.  Having said that, what I have recently come to learn, is that it simply doesn’t matter.  Put a final glossy coat of butter on the top, pop it in the over and it will come out stunningly beautiful (and obviously tasty – again, it’s the butter).

This week’s wrestling match with phyllo was Curried Chicken-and-Potato Pie from Everyday Food Magazine.  It was a bitterly cold, windy night here in Chicago and having this warm, fragrant concoction come out of the oven was soul-warming indeed.  One final admission on my version:  I could have sworn I had frozen peas in the freezer.  Apparently I did not.  So as it desperately needed something green in the mix, I added some scallions.  It was good, however I believe the peas would have been much better.  Check your freezer, people…just sayin’.

Curried Chicken-and-Potato Pie

Ingredients:

 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 1/2 stick melted

2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger

2 teaspoons curry powder

4 cups frozen hash browns (1 pound)

1/2 pound ground chicken

1 cup frozen peas

Salt and pepper

6 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large nonstick skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add ginger and curry powder and cook 2 minutes. Add hash browns, chicken, and 2 tablespoons water and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until chicken is cooked through and hash browns are tender, 15 minutes. Stir in peas; season with salt and pepper. Let cool slightly.

Lay 1 sheet phyllo on a work surface and lightly brush with melted butter. (Keep extra phyllo covered while you work.) Stack remaining 5 sheets on top, rotating each sheet slightly so edges are offset and brushing each with butter. Gently transfer stack to a buttered 9-inch glass pie plate. Fill with chicken mixture, then fold edges over top. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

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Weekly Winner – A Last Minute Substitution

In the interest of full disclosure, I did not make this week’s “Weekly Winner” this week.  I did, however, eat it last night.  Let me explain.  I had every intention of this week’s Winner being the Meatball Stroganoff I made on Sunday.  It was great.  I mean come on, it was meatball stroganoff!  However, last night we had what in this house is lovingly known as Freezer Pasta.  Freezer Pasta is a recipe that usually makes 6-10 servings, but which also sounds too good to cut down in size to only serve 2-4.  The whole batch is made and half of it gets stashed in the freezer for some future enjoyment. (This also serves to support my food hoarding problem which I outlined in https://donnasquickqi.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/the-hoarder-in-all-of-us/).

Alpine MacAnyway, back to last night’s dinner.  It was Alpine Mac & Cheese and I have made this recipe several times before.  I just don’t remember it actually ever being this good.  We originally had this particular rendition back around the holidays and even then we commented that it tasted better than we remembered.  So when it was thawed and reheated last night, and still impressed me with how good it was, well, the swap was made.  The recipe comes from Cuisine at Home magazine.

As for the meatball stroganoff, well stay tuned… you never know when it might show up here.

Alpine Mac & Cheese

For the topping:

1/2 c. fresh, seeded rye bread

2 T. minced parsley

2 T. unsalted butter, melted

salt and pepper

For the Casserole:

8 oz. dry cavatappi or elbow macaroni

8 oz. kielbasa, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds

1 T. olive oil

2 T. unsalted butter

2 T. minced shallots

1 T. caraway seeds

2 T. flour

2 1/2 c. whole milk, warmed

1 c. Gouda

1 c. Gruyere

3 T. Dijon

1 T. Worchestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 400 and coat 2 qt. baking dish with cooking spray

For topping, combine ingredients.

Cook pasta, drain and set aside. Brown Kielbasa in oil and transfer to plate. Melt butter in same pot over medium high heat. Add shallots and caraway seeds; cook until seeds are toasted, about 3 min.

Whisk in flour, coating shallots; cook 1 minute.   Whisk in milk and cook, whisking often until thickened slightly about 5-8 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add cheeses by the handful, whisking until melted before adding next handful. Stir in Dijon and Worcestershire, then stir in pasta and kielbasa; transfer to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle bread topping over casserole and bake until sauce is bubbly and crumbs brown (about 20-25 min). Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Weekly Winner – Why So Sad, Dolores?

Far be it for me to revel in someone else’s misery. I get no pleasure out of other people’s heartbreak… well, until now.

I recently came across this recipe and honestly, it was the picture that got me. I’m not even sure I noticed the name of the dish. I decided to make it and, as suspected, it was awesome. Truly some of the most succulent, decadent chicken I’ve ever made.  But it got me thinking about poor Dolores.

The name of the dish is Dolores’ Broken-Hearted Chicken. In my opinion, if Dolores was indeed broken-hearted before making this dish and decided to make it to heal her broken heart — it should have worked. She should be broken-hearted no more. I got the recipe from Saveur Magazine. When I went back to see if I could discover the story behind the name, I learned that this recipe was just one of a compilation of their favorite dishes over the past several years. The original recipe (and, I’m guessing the story) was written years ago and I can’t find the link. So I guess we’ll never know.

broken hearted chicken

Dolores’ Broken-Hearted Chicken

serves 4

Ingredients:

½ cup flour 1 (3-lb.) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 slices bacon, roughly chopped

3 tbsp. olive oil

5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 cup chicken stock

½ cup dry sherry

2 tbsp. roughly chopped parsley

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into ¼” cubes

Country bread, for serving

Instructions:

1. Heat oven to 350°. Place flour in a bowl; set aside. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and dredge in flour; set aside. Heat bacon in a 12″ ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring, until its fat renders, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a bowl; set aside. Add oil to skillet, and working in 2 batches, add chicken, and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

2. Add garlic to the skillet, and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add stock and sherry, and return chicken to the skillet, skin-side up; sprinkle with reserved bacon along with parsley, and then dot with butter. Transfer skillet to oven, and cook, basting twice during cooking, until chicken is cooked through and tender, about 40 minutes; serve with country bread.

The Dreaded, Beloved, Daily Grind

Appointment Book Calendar and PenAh, a new year.  The hustle of the holidays comes screeching to a halt.  Decorations packed away…excess pounds packed on.  Time to face reality.  Time to start back up with the oft-maligned Daily Grind.

Personally, I couldn’t be happier about it.  They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and while I do occasionally enjoy the flights of fancy that having nothing planned can bring, I have a renewed love and appreciation of knowing what lies ahead.  Back to work….there are schedules to keep, plans to make, weekly menus to create, and daily to-do’s to happily check off.  I am once again in my element.

I, for one, get a bit jittery when confronted with too much “winging it”.  A little spontaneity is a wonderful thing, but too much and I just can’t focus and begin to feel out of sorts.

So last week, while friends were bemoaning the end of vacations and time off, I was shining up my 2013 daytimer, filing away new recipes, completely revamping my pantry and purging closets left and right.  On Monday, I awoke like a little kid anxiously awaiting the first day of school.  Hey Daily Grind?  Welcome Back!  What took you so long?