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Posts Tagged ‘casserole’

Do you love white?

You know: rice, potatoes, pasta, bread, flour, bechamel (mmm, bechamel…)

Well, you don’t need me to tell you.  We’ve all heard we need to eat less white. (Naturally) colorful foods typically have more of the good stuff: vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, flavonoids, and fiber.  Unfortunately, DayGlo-orange Kraft Mac doesn’t count as the right kind of colorful.  Michael Pollan tells us; the federal government tells us—but it’s hard to apply all this good advice.

Lately, I’ve been making a concerted effort to put more color on our plates. Sometimes this means buying some flourescent produce and rushing home to ask Chef Google what the heck I can do with it.  That’s fun, in a kind of Iron-Chef-challenge way.  But sometimes, it’s just easier to work the good stuff into recipes I already make.

Which explains this chicken shepherd’s pie with spinach and sweet potato mash.  It’s got tons of the good stuff bathed in a little cream to help it go down with a smile.

Because a little white is alright.

To be honest, I like my revamped version better than the original. The faintly sweet topping plays off the creamy, herb-spiked base really nicely.  And the chicken is considerably lighter than beef or lamb.  I hope you enjoy my update to the classic.  Dig in!

Topping

-1 lg. sweet potato or yam
-3 med. or 5 sm. white potatoes (enough to weigh 1 1/2 lbs. together with the sweet potato)
-1 Tbsp. butter
-1 Tbsp. herbed cream cheese (I used porcini-mushroom flavored) or sour cream
-1/4-1/2 c. milk, as needed
-salt and pepper, to taste

Peel and cube all the potatoes and boil in a medium pot of salted water until tender.  Drain and place in a medium bowl.  Set aside the pot for later use.

Whip together the potatoes, butter, cream cheese (or sour cream), seasoning, and as little milk as needed to form a thick but spreadable consistency.

Preheat the oven to 425F.

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If you like lasagna, beef bolognese, or even Cincinnati chili, you’ll love this dish hailing from Greece.  Pastitsio is a layered casserole of tubular pasta tossed with hard cheese and topped off with meat sauce (spiced with cinnamon, clove, and oregano) and lightly browned bechamel sauce.  With so many delicious ingredients, how could it not be good?

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Credit: http://www.kitchencritic.co.uk

I have a particular fondness for one-pot, braised meals, both because I don’t have a dishwasher (sigh) and also because these tend to be historically peasant dishes that use inexpensive ingredients.

So what’s the problem?  I recently tried to make Arroz con Pollo, and although the flavors were delicious, the rice was soggy.  I’m trying to figure out what I did wrong. 

Was the rice mushy because I…

a) used too much water?  does chicken release enough water/juice that I should reduce the usual proportion of water?

 b) didn’t take the lid off (even to peek) the whole time it was cooking?  did some of the water need to cook off?

c) used a packet of yellow rice, which perhaps cooks more quickly than regular rice?  I used this:

See full size image

d) cooked it too long?  Shouldn’t that make the rice drier, not soggier?

Here’s the basic method I followed (not a recipe):

Marinade chicken in lime juice, garlic, seasoned salt, and oregano.  Brown in casserole (may dredge in flour first).  Remove chicken, saute chopped onion and bell pepper.  Add in saffron rice mix and liquid (may use some white wine in place), bay leaf, a bit of cayenne, top with chicken.  Simmer on low heat until chicken is done and rice is absorbed (don’t open lid) — approx. 45 min.  Add peas toward the end (optional).  Garnish with choped green olives and cilantro.

I’m stumped.  Any readers have advice?  I want to make it again, but with perfect rice!

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