Thursday, June 5, 2008

"50 Ways with Chicken" & "Wild Women in the Kitchen" - Chicken in Marsala with Asparagus and Vegetable Gratin

Date I made these recipes: June 1, 2008

50 Ways with Chicken by Rosemary Wadey
Published by: Crescent Books
ISBN: 0-517-12010-0 © 1991
Recipe: Chicken in Marsala with Asparagus

Wild Women in the Kitchen - 101 Rambunctious Recipes & 99 Tasty Tales by Nicole Alper with Lynette Rohrer of Star*s
Published by: MJF Books
ISBN: 1-56731-428-7 © 1996
Recipe: Vegetable Gratin

Today’s recipe selection was all about using up some red potatoes I bought for a previous recipe. The chicken recipe was thrown in as an afterthought since I didn’t think the gratin alone would satisfy two hungry eaters!

I probably could have found a red potato recipe in many of my other cookbooks but I had given Wild Women to my sister-in-law a few years ago and seeing as how I just saw her over Memorial Day weekend, I thought I’d make a recipe from it. She loves the cookbook (and loves the stories even more) and the two of us have had a wild moment or two in the kitchen (I reference this year’s meatball-making extravaganza); I only wish she was here with me making it.

The chicken recipe was selected primarily because it contained Parmesan cheese (also used in the gratin) and didn’t need a lot of prep time. It also seemed like it would go with the gratin—light and flavorful without being too heavy.

I must say, though, that I disagree with the author’s choice to use canned asparagus because canned asparagus is mush no matter how you slice it. But since the point of my blog is to follow the recipe verbatim, I didn’t substitute fresh for canned but believe me, you should. And if I were you, I’d skip the bread crumb and Parmesan cheese mixture and just go for the cheese. The breadcrumbs added absolutely nothing to the recipe. On the other hand, the addition of any type of alcohol, in my humble opinion, can never hurt a recipe so a liberal dose of Marsala or Sherry might be in order—but be careful or you might end up with your own wild moment in the kitchen!

Chicken in Marsala (or Sherry) with Asparagus – serves 4
2 T butter or margarine
1 T vegetable oil
4 boneless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
¼ level teaspoon garlic powder
Small amount of chicken stock
12 oz can asparagus spears
4 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
2 level tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the butter and oil in a pan. Season the pieces of chicken with salt, pepper and garlic; fry gently for about 8 to 10 minutes on each side until golden brown and almost cooked through.

Drain the asparagus and make the liquid up to 1 cup with stock. (*I recommend using fresh asparagus). Add to the pan followed by the Marsala and simmer gently for 5 minutes, basting occasionally. Season to taste.

Put three asparagus spears on top of each breast of chicken; chop the remainder and add to the sauce. Continue to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.

Combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese (*I’d skip the crumbs and just use the cheese) and spoon over the asparagus on the chicken.

Broil (grill) for 3 to 4 minutes until browned.

Vegetable Gratin (by wild woman chef and former Olympian sprinter Diane Clement of the Tomato Fresh Food Café in Vancouver, British Columbia) – serves 6
8 small red or white potatoes, thinly sliced
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
7 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
6 T grated Parmesan cheese
Dried basil and oregano, to taste
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/3 cup chicken stock
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line a large, oiled, shallow casserole dish with half the potato, zucchini, and tomato, alternating slices of each to make a red, green, and white pattern. Sprinkle with half the cheese and herbs. Drizzle a little oil over it. Repeat one more layer, ending with the cheese and herbs. Drizzle the chicken stock over the top. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Cover with aluminum foil if top becomes too brown.

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