Pasta with Chicken and Mushrooms

DSCF7733 (640x427)And now, I’m eating like a pauper. My body sometimes can’t take the transformations by resorting to quick pizza slices (Vegan) and sandwiches (Turkey) while I’m out or just before my training. I’ve kept dimsum at bay, and the rich, creamy, spicy and buttery Indian muttons and the heavy Chinese soy and bean sauces only for serious celebrations.  From having a luxurious cut of beef or porkloin, I was moved down to a diminutive slice of chicken breast, a bunch of greens and a small heap of pasta; unfathomable! I had never thought I would switch to this diet, and I was caught off-guard.

I encountered this dish in a steakhouse last summer when a former HS classmate visited Toronto. We went to a steakhouse, and as American as he was, went for a good old fashioned cut of steak and nachos. I’ve had several encounters with steakhouses here in the city and seeing another cut makes me avoid it all the more; moreso now with the health scare. I’ve had done pub style nachos  a long time ago and wouldn’t or can’t even touch one.  Extreme exhaustion also got the best of me; coming from work and travelling  farther up north to the suburbs to meet him was menacing. Nevertheless, it had to happen. It had been close to 25 years since we had seen each other, thus, I didn’t really mind the long travel.  So, to bring my nerves down and put me on a relaxing mode, I resorted to a lighter meal and a bottle of beer instead.

This is my rendition of that dish.  It was originally cooked with Portobello mushrooms. I used regular white mushrooms and whole wheat pasta for a healthier alternative. Mushrooms are always on sale in the oriental store and I can never go wrong by adding either herbs, a pinch of salt & pepper or wine with any kind of mushrooms. The pasta is given; tomato, pesto or even with just a drizzle of an expensive olive oil does wonders. The end product almost always tastes delicious.

I marinated the chicken breast to my liking; heavy on Pimenton and honey. The one I had was tad bland, and just had a hint of wine.  I couldn’t remember though if it was seared or grilled. My former HS classmates stared at me when I turned the dish up and about and even around.  Told them it was work related.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken Breast
  • Whole Wheat Spaghetti
  • Olive oil
  • Whiskey
  • Mushrooms, quartered
  • Garlic, minced to a paste
  • Onions, chopped
  • Pimenton Dulce (or Paprika)
  • Honey
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Truffle Salt
  • Condensed milk
  • Compound butter
  • Parmesan (condiment)

Chicken Marinade:

  • Pimenton Dulce
  • Honey
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Garlic

Marinate the chicken breast overnight. Pre-heat a sauté pan and sear the breast on both sides. Transfer to a roasting pan and finish off in a medium-high 350’C pre-heated oven ( really depends how big the breast is).

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Add a little more olive oil and sauté the onion and mushrooms.  Deglaze with whiskey and add a little chicken stock (or pasta water) to form a pan-sauce. Scoop a little minced garlic into the pan.

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Meanwhile, cook some spaghetti based on box instructions. Remove and set aside. Save some pasta water for the sauce.

Add the pasta (and water) and continue sautéing. Add a small amount of compound butter into the pan and finish off with condensed milk (or cream). Season to taste. Remove the chicken breast from the oven and let it rest, tinted (save the drippings to be added  into the pan-sauce).

Scoop the pasta into a dish and set the chicken atop the plate. Sprinkle with Truffle salt, and garnish with slivers of green onion.

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Grilled Chicken with Honey & Cumin

DSCF7389 (640x480)This should be the last dish on my on-going quest and love affair with ‘Tapas’.  Although, I would skip this entire topic for the meantime,  I may still blog topics related to it later on. It’s sort of my testing ground before I launch it out there, so to speak.

I’m still clearly hung-over by my vacation, and recently have been caught daydreaming about the next one. I always do. That short week is my only breather to a likewise routine and somewhat dull lifestyle. It’s all work, generally, and my form of play is only set once a week. Moreover, with things slowly gearing-up for Fall, I strongly feel that the next vacation won’t occur until late next year.  It’s all business from here on end as kids head back to school next month and parties begin to pop here and there.

Despite this setback, I feel my mind has been renewed and my taste buds have been awashed in newer and more delicate approach to food with recent trips abroad. Indeed, travel does change a cook’s perspective. I’m no exception.  I need this annual vacation to re-introduce myself to what’s already out there into, at least, something quite obvious, but also called ‘new’ in some respects. I believe it’s all perception, but it’s a  very deceiving one. This dish fits the description. The ingredients are available almost anywhere, but the intelligent and flavourful combination of spices made the long wait worthwhile. The quality of the olive oil and sherry vinegar would really make  this dish stand out.  My olive oil was less of an ordinary. I bumped up the spices to wake my senses more.

The flavours, after having it the second time around,  hinted Inasal or some form of Adobo without the Soy Sauce and onions.  It’s a a melee of sweet and sour taste with a touch of pungency; making it more inviting to the senses.

The breast can also be seared on a pan (which I did the first time) and the pan deglazed with the Sherry Vinegar (or wine) before proceeding.  This procedure had more impact, but the smoke from the charcoal from grilling (if I had used one) would also create something extraordinary.

Ingedients:

  • Chicken Breast
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt & Ground Black Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Honey
  • Ground Cumin
  • Sherry Vinegar
  • Garlic, minced to a paste
  • Chicken Stock

Season the chicken breast with salt, ground black pepper, olive oil and Paprika and set aside.

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Heat a pan at low heat with olive oil and sauté the garlic until aromatic.  Add the Sherry Vinegar, Cumin, Honey, and Chicken Stock and simmer until all  flavours blend together. Adjust the consistency and taste of the sauce by adding said ingredients as necessary, and prepare enough for the baste and the sauce.  Set aside to cool.

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Pour some of the sauce over the chicken breast and marinate overnight.

Season the grill or grill pan with oil and cross the chicken breast on all sides. Baste the breast while grilling  to prevent from drying. Transfer in a roasting pan and finish it off in the oven.  Tent with a tin foil to rest when done.

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Chop the breast in bite size pieces, and transfer in a ‘Cazuela’. Drizzle with the leftover sauce.  Sprinkle more salt and pepper and/or with Pimenton Dulce (Optional).

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Chicken Kiev

I finally had an opportunity to breath, for at least three days, before the next run of hell begins. It was crazy over the Canada Day Weekend and the last two weeks after that were at least a little more manageable. I just had to stop. August is also just around the corner which only means more events and activities have already been lined up by groups in conjunction with the city of Toronto to make the summer an ‘unforgettable’ one for those on vacation and for tourist alike. By the third week of August, I am definitely sure it will slow down as kids and parents prepare for Fall; that I am ultimately looking forward to.

For those like me, it only means more hell. I’ve been savouring every minute of this time-off in my apartment just basically doing nothing. Sometimes doing nothing helps keep myself together although it can be counterproductive at times. This is my third and final day; knowing the next couple of weeks might be as bad or even worse; just thinking about it makes me want to do ‘nothing’ even more. Personally, I feel the two months of summer is about six in total; given all the stresses and hours at work and the daily squabble and struggle with inefficient co-workers. And, physically, I think, I may not be able to do this anymore; and thus the search goes on.  Hopefully, next summer will be a much better scenario.

During this break, I was able to finally make one of the dishes I’ve been longing to make: Chicken Kiev. It’s making a comeback.  I had two chicken breast in my freezer from the whole chicken I bought for my Jerk Chicken, and I felt something more elegant can be done with them.  I was originally just thinking of a Supreme; back in Culinary Arts School with Herbs and Butter, but after searching and discovering Chicken Kiev, I knew I had had to have a hand on this one. It didn’t frustrate me.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Chicken Breast
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Parsley
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Salted Butter
  • Eggs, Flour, Panko Breadcrumbs (for Dredging)

Leave about ¼ of a cup of butter in room temperature. Chop some Thyme & Rosemary and incorporate the herbs with the butter to make a compound butter.

Spread the chicken breast lengthwise and pound them using the back of the cleaver. Put the compound butter at the center and roll the chicken breast like a carpet; making sure the butter is properly tucked in.  Set aside in the fridge (important).

Prepare the egg wash, flour and breadcrumbs for dredging. Season the egg wash and flour with salt & pepper and add some Parmesan Cheese and chopped Parsley in the breadcrumbs.  Start dredging the chicken. Set aside in the fridge for the second time around for a good half an hour or so.

Pan-fry all sides and insert in a 350’C preheated oven for just about 5-8 minutes, checking the firmness and doneness of the chicken every now and then (shouldn’t be dry).  Let it rest for a few minutes before slicing in half.

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