Creamy Turkey & Wild Rice Soup

Aah leftovers. We had a lot. I knew the turkey would eventually become turkey salad but I also knew that would be a lot of turkey salad. So, while Chris made the salad, I pondered on soup versus chili.  After a check of fridge contents, I went the soup route, primarily because I had unintentionally made double the amount of wild rice required for the corn casserole on Thursday.

Turkey-Wild Rice Soup with Fancy Carrots

The skeleton recipe for this was from a Paula Dean magazine but I only used it for approximate ratios.

Ingredients
4 cups cooked turkey, approximately, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion (red, is what I had)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 pints heavy whipping cream
1 32-oz broth (chicken or vegetable) plus more as desired
2 cups cooked wild rice
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1 tsp thyme, dried
1/2 tsp rosemary, dried
salt & pepper

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large stockpot, over medium-high heat.  Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic, stirring to coat with oil; season with salt & pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook vegetables until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add broth, turkey,dried herbs and rice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes. Check broth level and add more if necessary, depending on how thick you want it. Add fresh thyme, stir in cream and let cook about 5 minutes more. Season to taste.

This made for a thick soup. It was brothy, not overly creamy but not a lot of broth compared to the  turkey and rice. Just something to bear in mind.

An ideal go with: seeded bread sticks or cheesy toast.

Rice Pilaf the Geek Way

Standing in line at Target the other day, I noticed the Food Network magazine. Apparently it comes out on a regular basis but I’ve never noticed it before. This issue is the Thanksgiving galore edition with 50 versions of mashed potatoes. Since I’m probably hosting Turkey Day again this year, I need to start working on my meal plan so I picked it up, just $4 for the issue.

I’ve folded over 3 or 4 pages for the future but decided I wanted to make Alton Brown’s rice pilaf as soon as possible. Alton Brown is my hero. His shows are the perfect combination of silly props, real science and cooking (which is, after all, a science as well as an art). I learn things on his show that can be applied far beyond the one or two recipes he’s making. It dawned on me today that I will be able to watch the new season, now that we have returned to the world of cable (TV and internet).  I hate the bill but I’ll survive, I guess.

 PA188340The ingredients in the Rice Pilaf a la Alton are nothing unusual: onions, red pepper, rice, peas. Its the method that brings out the geek. Because all we get from the magazine is the directions, I don’t know exactly why Alton chose this method. I think I’d need his book, which I sadly do not own at the present time. There is a second version of the recipe at the Food Network website but its not a 1-dish version which is much nicer, clean-up wise.

 

 

Ingredients
1 medium onion, small dice
1 red bell pepper, small dice
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups long grain rice
2 bay leaves
1 1inx2in slice of orange peel
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
pinch of saffron in 1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 teaspoons salt plus 2 pinches
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup shelled pistachios, chopped

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350.

In large saucier, or in my case the Everyday Pan, melt butter over medium heat (must be an oven-okay pan with a lid). Add onion and pepper with 2 pinches of salt, stir to coat. Reduce heat to low and sweat vegetables until onion is translucent but not browning, 3-5 minutes.  Return heat to medium and add rice to pan. Stir constantly for 3-4 minutes until rice is coated and nutty aroma begins to waft through the kitchen.  Add broth, saffron with water, orange peel, bay leaves and 1 1/2 tsp of salt. Bring to a boil.

Here is where it gets geek: Thoroughly wet a large kitchen towel. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle the peas over the top of the rice.  Lay towel over the pan then place the lid on. Wrap the ends of the towel up over the lid and place the whole thing in the oven.

Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and keep covered for an additional 15 minutes.

 

PA188346

Remove lid/towel and remove orange peel and 2 bay leaves. Transfer to serving dish, fluff with fork and sprinkle raisins and pistachios over the top. Serve family style in the center of the table.


 

I only transferred about 1/2 to a serving dish since there were just 3 of us (the recipe serves 6, generously). The other reason I didn’t fancy up the whole thing was due to some disappointing results. Mostly in the center of the pan, there were pockets of rice which were not cooked. Really not cooked- still crunchy. I am all for al dente but some of the grains were nearly raw. I believe the error lies in the amount of cooking liquid and was all my fault. I added some wine to the pan before the aromatics and broth. In the end, I shorted the broth slightly and should not have. Every bit of liquid was absorbed in the stated cooking timess so I think, but cannot be sure, that if I’d put a little more broth in, we’d have been fine.

Jon didn’t say anything and Chris didn’t seem to mind: both went back for seconds. I believe I avoided most of the really uncooked bits, in any event.

Other than that issue, the pilaf was great. Nicely flavored without overpowering or even competing with the main dish (grilled pork in a chimichurri marinade in this case). I have noticed a number of disappointed reviews around the ‘net complaining of a lack of flavor. I would call this delicate but it definitely had flavor. While I do like vampire-repelling ultimate garlic dishes, I can also appreciate something a little more subtle too.


Thanks to the dedication (obsession) of a particular fan of Good Eats*, I was able to learn the why of cooking this rice in the oven. The oven, with its highly controllable temperature, is most like a rice cooker; a rice cooker doesn’t work too well for pilafs though as you must first saute your rice and optional flavorings in a pan before adding the liquid.

On the subject of Good Eats, the new episodes are Monday nights at 8pm. Rejoice, I have cable and can watch them!! Except, oh crap, one of the (only) two shows I watch regularly is also on at 8pm Mondays. We may have to upgrade to the DVR package.

*If you go, the episode is called Power to the Pilaf, full transcipt available and even some YouTube.

Arroz con Pollo

I borrowed this recipe from Elise, over at Simply Recipes. Some modifications for serving size and timeliness along with what was handy.

Arroz Con Pollo

Ingredients

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 package boneless skinless chicken breast, patted dry (approx 3 breast halves with tenderloins)
1/2 cup of flour for dredging
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Paprika

1 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup jasmine rice
1 1/2 cups* chicken stock
1 cup of diced tomatoes (canned, oregano, basil, garlic flavor), strained
Pinch of oregano or more
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup frozen mixed vegetable blend (beans, carrots, peas)

Directions

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pan with a lid.

Mix flour, salt, pepper and paprika together on a small plate. Dredge chicken in flour mixture and saute in pan until lightly browned on both sides. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Add the rice to the pan to brown. Add a little more olive oil if necessary. Stir first to coat the rice with the olive oil in the pan. Then allow it to sit and brown lightly. Add the onion and garlic. Cook the onion, garlic and rice mixture, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened, about 4 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix the stock, salt, oregano and tomatoes together.

Place the chicken pieces on top of the rice. Pour the stock mixture over the rice and chicken. I added a little more dried oregano here but its optional. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to low, and cover. Cook 15 minutes until the rice has absorbed all the stock.

Add frozen vegetable blend to pan and return lid. Cook 3-5 minutes until vegetables are heated through. Fluff rice with a fork before serving. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

This made 4 servings. It all came together pretty quickly – maybe 30 minutes start to finish. No picture- it was quick but a late start to dinner so I didn’t want to impede Chris by taking glamour shots first.

Arroz con Pollo would make a great make-ahead dish. You could freeze individual portions.

Check, Check, Check

Quick
Healthy
One Dish

This dish has it all. And Chris liked it too!

I pulled this recipe from the latest issue of Eating Well magazine. Its a great magazine and I highly recommend it for reading beyond the recipes. Fortunately for everyone, pretty much every recipe in the magazine is on the website.

At the grocery store, I nearly bought kale instead of chard by mistake but I don’t think it would have mattered that much. I did see the chard in time so was able to get organic rainbow swiss chard, from Meijer! The bundle was 6 stalks which seemed like a lot for this recipe even if it was going to wilt down significantly. I ended up using half so I’ll have another 3 stalks for something else later this week. Soup and salad, perhaps?

Skillet Gnocchi with Chard

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 16-ounce package shelf-stable gnocchi (see Tip)
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
6 cups chopped chard leaves (about 1 small bunch) or spinach
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until plumped and starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat, for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and water. Cover and cook until the onion is soft, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chard (or spinach) and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans and pepper and bring to a simmer. Stir in the gnocchi and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 3 minutes.

Nutrition
Per serving: 325 calories; 7 g fat (2 g sat, 3 g mono); 8 mg cholesterol; 55 g carbohydrate; 14 g protein; 6 g fiber; 616 mg sodium; 360 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (50% daily value), Vitamin C (40% dv), Calcium & Iron (19% dv).
3 Carbohydrate Servings
Exchanges: 3 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 lean meat, 1 fat

Serves 6

My amendments

1. Before the onions went in the pan, I browned 3 strips of bacon, roughly chopped. I used the bacon fat to brown the onions instead of adding more olive oil. This certainly changed the fat content but I felt it added a nice dimension to the flavor. One could easily substitute pancetta, a small amount of crumbled sausage or omit all together.

2. Instead of straight mozzarella and Parmesan, I used these Artisan blends from Sargento: Mozzarella and Provolone, Parmesan and Romano. I used them because we had them in the fridge already. I actually have really good Parmesan right now but it wasn’t grated yet. This night was about quick so I could get my homework done.

3. With the cheese, I generously sprinkled some dried basil over the top.

Despite some initial misgivings from Chris: No meat? Beans?, I’m “allowed” to make this dish again and he went back for seconds.

Making it up as I go along, part deux

Now this, I really did just make up as I went along. I had to make a dish to pass for Thursday’s holiday luncheon at work. I planned to make something like the squash risotto but then I just did not feel like doing all the stirring required. And cutting up a hard, awkwardly shaped squash.

On our sign-up sheet I had marked “casserole” and US/Italy as the country (this year’s theme was international). A little departure from that but I definitely think I got the US of A part down!

All American Rice Casserole

Ingredients

1/2 bunch asparagus
1 small red onion
1 can creamed corn
5-6 cherry tomatoes, halved
Gouda cheese
brown rice (2 cups dry)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
chicken broth
nutmeg
sage
salt/pepper
1 mashed clove of garlic

Directions

  • I cooked the rice in the rice cooker first. Took about 40 minutes for 2 dried cups of short grain brown rice. I let that work its magic while we ate dinner (see Part 1). When ready, preheat oven to 350°.
  • Trim asparagus, set tips aside then cut stems in to 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Quarter the red onion then slice thinly.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds then add red onion. Sprinkle a little salt on the onions to encourage the water to come out.
  • Season onions with 1 teaspoon dried sage and 1/4 tsp nutmeg (I grated part of a whole nutmeg using a microplane grater). Reduce heat to medium-low and allow onions to soften and begin caramelizing.
  • Meanwhile, spread cooked brown rice in the bottom of a large casserole dish. Unless the rice is very moist, pour a 1/4 to 1/2 cup broth (chicken or vegetable) over it. Sprinkle generously with grated Gouda cheese. Spread 1 can of creamed corn over the rice and cheese. Season with 1 teaspoon dried sage and a dash or two of nutmeg.
  • When onions have just started to brown, add sliced asparagus stems to pan. Cook 2-3 minutes until asparagus turns bright green.
  • Spread onion-asparagus mixture over corn in casserole dish.  Cover completely with grated Gouda; get right up the the edge of the casserole dish.
  • Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove covering and raise temperature to 475 or turn on broiler. Scatter tomato halves, asparagus tips and sliced (or slivered) almonds over top of casserole. Cook 10 minutes more until almonds begin to turn light brown. I did this under the broiler, about 8-10 inches from the element. Closer in, I would say 5 minutes or less- watch for burning!
asparagus corn casserole
asparagus corn casserole

 


Since I really did just make this up as a I went along, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Then I was late getting in the buffet line today and wondered if I’d get to try out my own dish! But I did. It was about 1/2 gone (and completely gone by the time the serving was over). I’m pleased but I would say that this dish is best served hot from the oven with the cheese bubbling. Being reheated and held in the oven dries out the rice.