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Posts tagged ‘egg noodles’

Savory Pecan Cream with Chicken & Egg Noodles

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

*Important*  The following recipe does not include any cream, milk, or half and half, despite appearances and taste…no cows were involved in the making of this dish.  (I know…it’s hard to believe – since I love the stuff and rarely abstain from a little pour, a touch of cream, a dollop of dairy.)

I was intrigued with the challenge this month and was excited to try a couple of the recipes…unfortunately…somehow July has been a challenging month to find the time.  I was able to complete the challenge on time…but getting a post written is often times the greater challenge.

Chicken with Pecan Cream & Mushrooms


Pecan Cream:
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans*, toasted
1 cup water
¾ teaspoon salt, more as needed

½ pound egg noodles or pasta
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 teaspoon olive oil, more as needed
Salt & pepper to taste

1 tablespoon deglazing liquid (water, broth, wine; optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil, more as needed
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
½ pound mushrooms, sliced
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Chopped pecans – optional garnish

First, toast up your pecans to deepen the flavor – put them in a dry skillet over medium heat and give the pan a shake every so often.  Make sure just to toast – not burn…and this burning I speak of can happen quite fast…so no walking away from the stove and forgetting about what is going on.

Next, prepare the pecan cream. Grind pecans in a food processor for about a minute or so until smooth, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Add water and 3/4 teaspoon (3 ml) salt; process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Set aside pecan cream.

Yummm….delicious nutty cream (sans cream).

Pound chicken to 1/2 inch thickness to promote even cooking.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper to taste.  Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil and a little butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the chicken; sauté 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through.  Set aside cooked chicken on a clean plate, cover to keep warm.

Chop the shallots and slice the mushrooms.

Add deglazing liquid to pan if using and stir up any browned bits – these are my favorite part.  The browned bits.  If needed, add another teaspoon of oil (or more) to pan for sautéing the shallots and mushrooms.

Sauté the shallots and mushrooms over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and starting to brown.

I am drooling…I love mushrooms…especially when combined with butter and some kind of oniony thing.

Add fresh thyme to the pan.

Stir in pecan cream; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 1/2 minutes till reduced slightly.

Slice the chicken breast, place atop egg noodles and ladle the pecan cream over the top.  I finished the dish with some microgreens!

One would SWEAR that there are LOADS of cream, heavy cream, whipping cream…in this dish…but alas there is NONE!  This will definitely be a keeper for those times when we’re entertaining any lactose intolerant guests.  Also…it was just good.  The sauce keeps a bit of the graininess from the chopped pecans and is rich and decadent.  Be careful not to over-salt the pecan cream…it’s hard to fix that one.

Beef Stroganoff

Weekends mean cooking a meal that takes a little more time and involvement…and deserves a little more time to be eaten.  Beef Stroganoff fit the bill for Sunday dinner.

Basically I can’t resist most “comfort food”.  I love it.  I think I could survive on mashed potatoes alone and come by it honestly, since my grandmother used up leftover mashed potatoes by making mashed potato sandwiches.  Yup…bread with mashed potatoes.  Carbs, carbs and more carbs!

The recipe is courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated…one of our favorite cooking magazines.  Typically, beef stroganoff is made with tenderloin…we used shoulder tip (aka steak tips) and had the butcher just slice off about 1.25 pounds for us, which we then Sliced into manageable pieces to marinate and sear.

Once the meat is sliced, poke holes in each piece and on each side with a fork.  The marinade is simply soy sauce…which according to Cook’s, ups the meaty flavor and the juiciness.

I used 2-3 teaspoons and let it marinate for about an hour covered in the fridge.

While the beef was marinating, I prepped all the other vegetables.  Mushrooms first – brushed off and then sliced into quarters.

Look at those mushrooms.  I love them.  I think I could also survive on mushrooms cooked in butter…add those to any dish, and I’m there.

Now here is an unusual step in the mushroom preparation.  I was a little skeptical as well, but I think it was a success.  Mushrooms are full of water, therefore browning them can take quite a while as you have to cook the water out of them first before they’ll begin to brown in the pan.  Cook’s solution is to throw all those beautiful quartered mushrooms into a microwave safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 4-5 minutes, or until they’ve reduced in volume by half.

Upon removing them from the microwave, you pour off the water in the bottom of the bowl and then when you toss them into the hot pan, they begin to cook and brown much more quickly.

Next vegetable – onion.  Dice and set aside.

Next, prepare all ingredients for the sauce.  Clockwise from top left – beef stock, sour cream, white wine, mixture of dry mustard, sugar, cracked black pepper and water, flour and last, tomato paste.  Have these prepped and ready.

Meat – post marinade and pre-sear.  No the meat didn’t absorb all that soy sauce…we took the meat out of the marinade and patted it dry.

Place a pan on the heat and use a tbsp of oil.  I prefer grape seed oil as it has a very high smoke point and a neutral flavor.  Heat the pan to almost smoking and add the meat, making sure to not crowd each piece.  Once the meat is down, resist the urge to move it around a lot as you won’t get a good sear on it if you do.  I don’t remember the amount of time I cooked these…maybe 4-5 minutes on the first side and 3 on the second side.  Remove the meat from the pan and set aside to rest…I cover with a little foil to keep it warm…although for this it doesn’t really matter…and remember the meat continues to cook while it rests.

All the browned bits, aka the best deliciousness ever, are really important.  Technically called the fond – they provide the deep color of the final sauce and immense loads of flavor.  They’re stuck now…but when you add vegetables or any liquid, the pan is de-glazed and it develops into the sauce.  Add the onions and par-cooked mushrooms and cook down until the mushrooms have browned and the onions are soft.

After resting the meat, it looks like this.  Some drippings have accumulated on the plate…which all get added back into the pan.  Once the meat has rested, slice it across the grain into slices that are just small enough to fit in your mouth.  Once you cut into these…you’ll wonder why, in fact, you’re not just eating them immediately…just as they are…because that is how good it looks!  Be patient!

Onions are soft, mushrooms are browned.

At this point, sprinkle the flour into the hot pan and dump in the tomato sauce.  Once you stir it up…it’ll look pasty and chunky.  Continue to stir as you’re trying to cook the flour a bit and get rid of any raw flour taste.  The flour is the thickener and if it is not cooked enough…the suace can end up gummy.

Now is the time to add the mustard mixture, the beef broth, and the wine.  Poof, voila…delicious sauce…golden goodness…and it’s not even finished yet.  Stir it all together to make sure that the flour chunks have incorporated into the sauce.

Here’s the money shot…mmmmm…..beeeeef!  Really – at this point Woody and I almost didn’t bother finishing the dish as it looked so good.  Also, at this point Woody said “If you can cook steaks this well in a pan at home…how come we don’t have them all the time…?”  So add the beef in and stir until it is coated in sauce and warmed through.

Final dish!  You may have noticed a few int he series missing…as we were in the rush to get everything on the table at the same time.  Here’s what you missed…just before you are ready to serve, add in the sour cream…this is the essential ingredient that defines the dish as Beef Stroganoff.  It adds (surprise) a sour, tangy flavor.  Again, stir until it is well incorporated and warm throughout.  Serve on egg noodles or rice, and top with fresh chopped parsley.

And then…it was gone.  So good…and good for leftovers too!  (which is important since we made enough to feed an army!)  Complete recipe will be added to this post soon!

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