Monthly Archives: January 2009

Cheddar Broccoli Chicken and Rice

It has been really cold outside here in NYC. So that means comfort casserole time. I normally default to mac and cheese when I’m having these sorts of cravings, but I wanted to produce a healthier version. This has all of the warmth and comfort but with the addition of veggies and protein.

Cheddar Broccoli Chicken and Rice

3 cups Arborio rice
2 tablespoons butter
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 ½ pound chicken thighs, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 pound bag of frozen broccoli, thawed
½ cup ricotta
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 12oz bag shredded cheddar
½ cup milk
½ cup parmesan
olive oil

Place the rice and the butter in a large pot. Melt the butter and toast the rice grains. Add the water, salt, garlic and bouillon. Bring the mixture to a boil. Then turn the heat down to medium low and place the lid on the pot. Cook for 30 minutes.

Transfer the rice to the final casserole dish. In the same large pot, heat the oil, chicken, and seasoning on medium high, stirring occasionally. Keep cooking the chicken until it is done and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the broccoli to the chicken and cover to steam and heat through. Remove the cover and allow the rest of the liquid to evaporate.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Return the rice to the pot and add the cheeses and milk, except for the final amount of parmesan. Mix the rice mixture to fully combine. The cheese will melt as you mix. Transfer the rice mixture back to the casserole dish. Smooth the top of the rice mixture and spread out the remaining parmesan cheese over the top. Spray or drizzle a tiny amount of olive oil over the parmesan cheese.

Bake the casserole in the oven for 45 minutes or until the cheese on the top forms a nice crusty brown. You can also switch the oven to boil to finish the browning process.

Bacon Truffles

I’ve always been a fan of salty sweet things. First it started with salty caramel then salt and chocolate. Last year something really interesting appeared at my local Vosges chocolate shop here in Soho: bacon and chocolate. It was good, but not amazing. I knew it could be better. So for this holiday season, instead of buying gifts, I decided to make a NYC delicacy and bring it back to DC for my family and friends, bacon truffles. It is important to get smoky bacon; it adds a much better depth of flavor. I choose a hickory smoked bacon but you could use apple wood smoked bacon as well. I also buy my chocolate in blocks from the specialty section of WholeFoods. High quality chocolate is what makes truffles so luxurious.

Bacon Truffles
2 12oz packages of hickory smoked bacon
2 ½ pounds great quality semi sweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound semi sweet chocolate

The first step is to render the fat off of the bacon and make it into bacon bits for the final garnish. Chop the bacon into very fine pieces and cook it in a heavy pan on medium high heat. Stir the bacon intermittently to make sure that it browns and crisps easily. Once the bacon starts to get close to a dark red color and looks crispy, remove it to a dish lined with several paper towels. The bacon will continue to cook once it is removed, so make sure you remove it early enough so that it doesn’t burn as it cools. Set aside 1/3 cup of the bacon fat, without any bacon bits.

Chop the chocolate into small chunks. Place it into a large metal bowl. Add the cream, fat and salt. Place the chocolate bowl over a pot filled with water on medium heat. Let the chocolate steam over the water for at least 10 minutes. Using a whisk, once the chocolate is melted, start in the center of the bowl and slowly whisk to combine into a silky ganache. Remove the chocolate from the heat and let to cool to room temperature.

Using two teaspoons, spoon out balls of ganache onto baking trays lined with parchment paper. Roll the balls into globes with your hands. If your hands are super warm like mine are, or if your ganache is still too soft, place the trays in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up the confections.

Chop the last block of chocolate and place it into a medium size metal bowl. Place it over a pot of water on medium high heat, stirring with a rubber spatula intermittently. Let the chocolate melt completely. Pick up some of the melted chocolate with the spatula; drop it back into the pool of chocolate. If the falling chocolate sinks into the rest of the melted chocolate the temper is broken. If it still piled up on top of the surface, continue to heat the chocolate. Once the chocolate is fully melted, move the medium size bowl into a larger metal bowl that is a quarter full of ice and cold water. Continue to mix the chocolate, paying special attention to mix in the hardening chocolate that is sticking to the sides of the bowl. Test the chocolate to see if the temper has returned, life some of the melted chocolate out of the bowl and drizzle it back into the pool of melted chocolate. Once the temper has returned, the chocolate will stack up on itself as opposed to sinking back into the bowl.

Drop the ganache balls into the melted chocolate. Roll them to coat and extract them using two small spoons. Place the coated truffles onto the parchment paper and sprinkle with a healthy amount of the bacon pits. If you really love bacon, roll the chocolates into the bacon to coat completely. Cool the finished truffles in the refrigerator. Store the truffles in an air tight container until ready to serve.