Some of the most magnificent magic can be worked with leftovers if you just open your mind and think about “pairing.” Now I know that “pairing” is a wine or mating term, but combining foods can also be a very creative use of your culinary imagination. I’ll ‘splain, Lucy…..
It was a cool (cool in Florida is when the temps are in the 60s) day, clouds dotted the sky, letting very little blue through. Rain was intermittent and cashmere was the order of the day. Now that you have the setting, let me give you the scene:
The weather dictated soup. I LOVED the corn chowder soup recipe that came with Lipton Chicken Noodle packets maybe 25 years ago. But hubby doesn’t like corn so I had to come up with an alternative. I sautéed a small onion, a stick of celery with the leafy tops and a carrot, thinking I’d just add the packet ingredients to have an instant chicken soup lunch. That was until I opened the refrigerator and discovered a container of last night’s leftover Chicken Breast with Calvados and Onion Sauce. I’d served it with Basmati rice and Sugar Snap Peas, and a full breast and lunch portion were sitting, alone and lonely, in a container in the refrigerator. I knew if I didn’t do something with it, the disposal would be treated to a lovely lunch.
I diced the breast, dumped it, along with the rice, snap peas and the leftover cream sauce, into the soup pot. Following the packet directions, kind of, I added 32 ounces of chicken broth, seasoning and a dash of curry powder (another “pairing” genius idea!) and stirred. The cream in the Calvados sauce thickened the soup, the newly added vegetables added heft, and the ingredients met and mated! A true pairing! The only thing I’d change would be the suggestion of oil in the sautéing pot. Butter doesn’t leave oily circles on the top of the soup.
Tonight’s dinner is going to be Shrimp Primavera over pasta, and I’ll tweak the leftover soup by reducing it, adding some minced garlic as I sauté the shrimp, steaming some old broccoli florets and using them before worms move in, and pouring the whole mish-mash over some thin spaghetti!
I’m including the recipe for the original Chicken Calvados with Onion Cream Sauce. Let’s see how much life you can get out of the leftovers!!!!
CRUNCHY CHICKEN BREASTS WITH CREAMY CALVADOS AND ONION SAUCE
We fell in love with Calvados on a vacation in Normandy. Just a whiff of the stuff takes me back to the harbor in Honfleur where we sat in the sunlight, eating Calvados crepes. Oh, do I miss that place! This dish is rich, but so flavorsome. And it’s a nice, easy twist on a creamed chicken dish. Brilliant!
Mis en Place:
What You Need:
4 skinless chicken breasts, dried and dusted with flour 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tbsp salted butter
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
¼ tsp. curry powder
750 ml plus 3 tbsp. heavy cream
1/3 cup Calvados
¼ cup chopped parsley
Utensils and Tools:
Dutch Oven/Casserole with cover
Measure the flour into the plastic bag. Drop the breasts into the bag one by one and coat with the flour. Shake and remove. Set aside. This is known as “velveting” the chicken and gives it a nice, crispy coating.
Melt butter until bubbles subside. Sauté chicken in the butter 4-5 minutes, turning every minute as it crisps. Remove from casserole and set aside.
Turn heat to low. Add the onions to the casserole, cover and sauté for 10 minutes. Check to make sure the onions are not burning.
With the heat still on low, return chicken to casserole and cook for 5 minutes. Turn over, cook for 5 minutes more.
Salt. White Pepper. Curry Powder.
Mix the above in a small bowl. Sprinkle over chicken.
Turn the heat up to medium-low and add the Calvados to the casserole and cook, uncovered, until the liquid boils and then almost all evaporates.
750 ml Heavy Cream.
Heat the heavy cream in the separate saucepan until it boils. Add to the casserole.
Turn the chicken over in the cream as it comes to a simmer.
Cover and simmer 30-35 minutes. Halfway through, turn the chicken pieces one more time.
Plate the chicken, pour over the Calvados cream sauce and sprinkle parsley over the top.
Serve over Basmati rice and add a green vegetable on the side, such as peas or sugar snaps. Pray for leftovers so you can use your imagination in the wonderful world of leftovers!