Friday, May 15, 2009

Blog Hopping: Comfort Cooking with Oak Cottage

Ah, the humble chicken casserole. I had been dreaming of this dish ever since I first saw Marie's recipe for Chicken Crumble on her blog. For something so very easy to prepare, and so frugal and versatile, a chicken casserole packs a huge comfort pay-off. Rich, warm, filling, and delicious.

I had picked a somewhat warm evening to prepare this recipe and had decided to drag my laptop into the kitchen with me while I cooked. You see, I was in the middle of an important conversation with my best friend, and decided to risk powdering my pc with flour to continue chatting while whipping up my culinary comfort feast. Now really.. would you turn down the prospect of having both your best friend in your kitchen (albeit virtually) while you cook and cry over the days woes and also get to eat chicken casserole? Surely not!

Well, the filling for the casserole was quite easy. I started with micro-poaching some chicken breasts. I suppose a recipe would be somewhat helpful for that so here it is:

Micro-Poached Chicken Breasts (adapted from a recipe here)
(4 servings)

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth
white pepper, to taste

Place the chicken breasts in a ring around the edges of a microwave safe baking dish, pour the liquid over the chicken, and dust lightly with the pepper. Cover, leaving some edges vented (I used plastic wrap with two corners turned up) and cook about 5-7 minutes, or until the chicken feels somewhat firmer but not rubbery and the juices in the dish are not pink. Leave in the microwave, still covered, for 20-30 minutes to rest. This resting time is important, don't skip it! The chicken finishes cooking and absorbs moisture as it rests. Remove from the liquid and dice or slice as needed for your recipe.

Note: This is supposed to be quite bland, as the finished chicken is meant to be added to recipes, so don't be tempted to add salt or other flavorings unless you are planning to eat this as is.

Now about that casserole.. everything was working without a hitch until I got to the crumble topping. Marie's recipe calls for rubbing butter into the floury topping ingredients with your fingers. I had one hand in my floury bowl of butter and kept my other hand free to occasionally reach over to type on my laptop. The crumble was looking crumbly and everything was fine and carefree. Then we got to the egg part. Adding the egg to the topping required a bit more attention than I was willing to give at the time and I overmixed it, turning my crumble into paste. I probably should have added a sprinkle of flour at this point but I did not. If you find yourself in a similar predicament, I suggest grabbing a spoonful of flour.

This did not result in disaster... just a bit more work on my part. I carefully plucked off tiny pieces of my topping paste and dropped them on top of the filling. This took ages to do, but it worked. Finally. the casserole went into the oven. I broke one bowl and chipped another in my haste to clean up my kitchen while still chatting away. I do not recommend trying to wash dishes and chat on a laptop in your kitchen at the same time. In the end though, both the conversation and the delicious casserole were worth it.

1 comment:

  1. So glad you enjoyed this lovely casserole Heather, despite the few mishaps! It's one of our favourites as well. Anything that helps to make leftovers delicious and appealing is a bit plus in these budget crunching times!