Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cooking Class Leads to Delicious Feast

I attended a basic cooking techniques class at The Rolling Pin on Saturday and it rocked my world. We boned chicken breasts, poached salmon, made inventive yet simple sauces and discovered the wonderful world of root vegetables. Thus, my subsequent Monday night dinner was divine. I winged it a little bit based on my cooking class memories and the help of yummy ingredients from Harry's Farmers Market but I'll try to sum up a recipe for you all.

I have a couple reminders before we begin. First, don't use non-stick skillets if possible. It's the slight stick of browning food bits that create flavor. Although, for instance, the chicken breast will stick a bit at first, it will stop sticking when it's ready to be turned. Second, heat an empty pan first, then add only just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Third, be confident and always taste your food. Don't be afraid to adjust as you go and always add salt incrementally instead of all at the beginning.

Sauteed Chicken Breast over Bow Tie Noodles with Sundried Tomato and Olive Cream Sauce
(Served 8)

4 Bone-In Chicken Breasts
Kosher Salt and Pepper, to taste
Rosemary, to taste

Chicken bones, from the breasts, roasted
3 Celery stocks
3 Carrot sticks (or 12 baby carrots)
1 Yellow onion

Bow tie pasta
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tsbp. butter

Root Vegetables
2 Tsbp. butter
3 ladles of stock
1 Rudabega, diced
1 Turnip, diced
1 Celery Root, diced
1 package of baby carrots, halved
3 Golden Beats, diced
4-5 Shallots, cut in half and peeled
2 Tbsp. Sugar
Salt and pepper

Olive oil
2-3 Shallots, minced
2-3 Cloves of Garlic, diced
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup Chardonnay
1 cup Sundried Tomatoes, cut into strips
1/2 cup Olives (Black-ish Purple), halved
1 ladle (homemade) chicken stock
4-5 Tbsp. Heavy cream
Kosher Salt, Pepper
Pinch of sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Bone your chicken breasts to produce a breast, a tender and a bone. Place the bones on a baking sheet with a little oil and let them roast while you prep your little heart out.
  2. Begin by chopping up your celery, carrot sticks and onion. Meanwhile fill a stock pot up halfway with water and bring to a boil. 
  3. Add the celery, carrots, onion, thyme, parsley and bones, then bring down to a simmer.
  4. Dice all of your root vegetables into equal sized cubes, roughly 1 inch sides.
  5. Salt and pepper both sides of the raw chicken breasts and tenders. 
  6. Heat up a skillet (not a non-stick pan, with angled out sides to allow for faster evaporation) then add just enough olive oil to coat the pan. Once the oil is shimmering, add 1 or 2 chicken breasts, presentation (a.k.a. former skin side) down. DO NOT MOVE IT AROUND ON THE PAN
  7. Once the chicken is golden brown on the outside, it will stop sticking to the pan and you can flip to cook the other side. The meat will only be cooked about halfway through when done in the pan.
  8. Turn the oven down to 375. Place your half-cooked chicken breast on a baking sheet and cook then the rest of the way, checking often to ensure they do not over-cook. 
  9. Now get your root vegetables going. Melt 2 Tbsp. of butter into a large skillet over medium heat. Add all of the vegetables, thyme and parsley as well as 3 ladles of stock. Stir around a bit and cover.
  10. For the sauce, heat a non non-stick skillet, then add olive oil to coat. 
  11. Add diced shallots, moving them around constantly. After a couple minutes add garlic and mushrooms. Stir around for another couple minutes then de-glaze with 1/2 cup of wine.
  12. Once that has reduced down, add the tomatoes, olives, and thyme. Also add a ladle of stock and 4-5 Tbsp of heavy cream. 
  13. While the sauce reduces, cook the pasta and, if you like, stick a buttered baguette in the oven.
  14. Taste your sauce! Add salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar as needed to taste.
  15. Remove the sauce from the heat once it is flavored and reduced as you like.
  16. Check on the vegetables. Add salt and pepper as needed. Add 2-3 Tbsp of sugar. The vegetables will be done when they are fork tender.

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