Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Baked Cheesy Chicken Penne

I found this recipe on Our Best Bites. It is truly fast and easy, but it doesn't taste like something you threw together quickly. A big hit with Marc and Max.

Baked Cheesy Chicken Penne
based on a recipe by Martha Stewart

  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces each), halved horizontally
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 10 ounces white or cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded provolone* (6 ounces) you could also make that 1/2 mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 6 ounces)
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. If you're going to freeze one, use a disposable foil pan. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta and set aside.
  2. While pasta is boiling, heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise. While chicken pan is still hot, toss the mushrooms in and saute until golden brown (3-4 minutes). Use a little extra olive oil if needed.
  3. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot (I just use the pot I cooked my pasta in), melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking constantly, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer. Keep whisking frequently as sauce thickens, about 1 minute more. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. take the pan off the heat and and gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
  4. Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes. If freezing, place remaining parmesan cheese in a zip-top baggie. If cooking, sprinkle on top.
  5. Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Freezer instructions:

To freeze, prepare through step 4 and then let pasta cool. Cover pan well with plastic wrap. Place extra cheese in baggie (for topping) on top and then cover entire pan well with foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. To bake, preheat oven to 400. Remove foil and plastic from pan and set cheese baggie aside. Place foil back on pan and bake for about 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil, stir pasta, and top with cheese. Return pan to oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until mixture is hot and bubbly throughout.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pizza Bianca

This recipe comes from Jim Lahey's My Bread. I find the name misleading, as it is closer to focaccia than what we think of as pizza. Think of naked pizza dough, drizzled with olive oil, coarse salt, and maybe some fresh herbs, and you'll be right on point.

More importantly, it is delicious.

Lucas was gone when we ate it, and I put the last piece in his lunch the next day. He thought he hit the jackpot. (He did.)

Pizza Bianca

3 c. bread flour
1/4 t. yeast
1/2 t. salt
3/4 t. sugar
1 1/2 c. cool water
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil (plus more for coating the bowl & brushing)
1/2 t. coarse sea salt
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed (optional)

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. Lightly coat a second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature, until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, about 9-12 hours. (A longer rise would cause the dough to be less elastic, and it needs to stretch.)

When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. The dough will be quite loose and sticky. Using floured hands, fold the dough over itself two or three times and nudge it into a loose, rather flat, ball. Brush the surface of the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with the coarse salt (which will graduately dissolve on the surface.) Let rise until doubled, 1-2 hours.

Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 500 degrees, with a rack in the center, and place a pizza stone (at least 14" in diameter) in the center of the rack. (If you don't have a pizza stone, use a baking sheet.)

Generously dust a pizza peel with flour and place the ball of dough in the middle. Spread out your fingers like a claw and drive your fingers into the dough, but do not puncture it. You want to simultaneously create dimples in the dough and spread it out across the peel. Continue working your hands across the dough and dimpling it until you have a bumpy disk about 12" in diameter. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the rosemary leaves, if using.

Shake the pizza onto the baking stone. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown on the mounds but still pale in the dimples. Transfer to a rack to cool for at least a few minutes before slicing.