Between our New Year’s Day celebration and last weekend’s bridal shower party we amassed a lot of inexplicable leftovers. How we wound up with Camembert cheese left over, I’ll never know. That’s fancy French cheese from Normandy, for goodness sake! As I recall, we Americans fought our tails of to liberate that cheese! And the gouda! For pity’s sake everyone ignored the gouda! Other than tulips, legalized prostitution and hash bars gouda is the Netherland’s #1 attraction!
The leftover cauliflower and broccoli is easier to understand. They’re always the last stragglers on a veggie tray. The Kalamata olives went first and then the carrots. By the time the carrots were gone, so was the creamy ranch dressing dip. Poor cauliflower and broccoli always get left behind, like a scrawny kid who gets picked last during recess, when teams are chosen.
So, now it’s time to scrape together all of the those party leftovers and make a meal.
Rustic Chicken with Winter Vegetables and Whipped Potatoes
My first step was to make the puff pastry for the chicken dish. From there I prepped much of the rest of the meal in advance and kept it cool until nearly service time. I finished by roasting the vegetables and frying some matchstick onions.
Ingredients for the puff pastry:
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cup cold butter (2 and a half sticks)
½ cup ice cold water
Puff pastry is really not too difficult to make at home as long as you adhere to a few rules. There are only a few ingredients but the important thing to remember while making the pastry is to keep all of the ingredients very cold during preparation. I chilled the flour, in addition to chilling the butter, and I put the water in the freezer, just prior to using it.
Since hands are warm, and warmth is a pastry killer, I added the flour, salt and butter to a food processor. I pulsed the food processor several times until the flour and butter combined to make a grainy mixture.
I added the ice cold water and pulse again, until the dough began to form a ball. I turned out the dough ball to a clean work surface and formed the dough into a 12” x 6” rectangle. I worked quickly, using the rolling pin.
I folded the dough over into a tri-fold and squared the dough by pushing the edges with the rolling pin. I added a little more flour to the work surface to keep the dough from sticking to the surface.
I rolled the dough out again to a 12” x 6” rectangle and folded it in thirds again. I repeated this process three more times. Rolling the dough multiple times increases the amount of flakiness of the finished puff pastry.
I wrapped the rectangle of dough in plastic wrap and kept it refrigerated until I was ready to use it.
This recipe makes enough dough for 24 pastry cups.
Ingredients for the rest of the meal:
1 ½ cup water
2 tsp dried rosemary
½ cup blueberries
1 Tbs sugar
4 chicken thighs (bone–in)
5 cloves fresh garlic, sliced thin
2 tsp dried rosemary
1 Tbs rendered bacon fat
½ cup roasted red bell peppers
4 oz sliced mushrooms (I used canned mushrooms)
1 Tbs olive oil
6 oz Camembert cheese (rind removed)
6 small russet potatoes
2 Tbs butter
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup milk
5 cloves roasted garlic
1 yellow onion, sliced into very thin rings
1 cup buttermilk (I used 1 cup milk and 1 tsp vinegar)
1 cup flour
1 tsp seasoning salt
1 ½ cup carrots, sliced and chopped
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 Tbs olive oil
½ cup gouda cheese, shredded
Fill a small bowl with 1 ½ cups of boiling water. Add the rosemary and sugar. When the water has reached room temperature, remove the rosemary and reserve for later.
Add the blueberries to the fragrant water and allow them to soak at room temperature for a few hours.
Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and discard. Using a small, sharp knife, make several incisions in the chicken and insert the slices of garlic.
Add bacon grease and olive oil to a baking dish. Smear the chicken with the grease and oil and nestle the chicken in the baking dish. Sprinkle the reserved rosemary onto the chicken.
Roast the chicken, uncovered, in an oven at 350° for 90 minutes. Baste the chicken occasionally. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down to room temperature.
Once the chicken has cooled, shred by hand.
Dice the roasted peppers and add to the shredded chicken. Add the mushrooms to the chicken and mix to incorporate. Set aside.
Wash and scrub the potatoes. Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Cover the pot with a lid and boil the potatoes at low heat for about one hour, or until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork.
Using a hand-held mixer, blend the potatoes, including the potato skins, with the butter, sour cream, milk and roasted garlic. Store in warm place.
Drain the blueberries and set aside.
Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and place on a clean work surface. Divide the dough in half. Use one half for the chicken dish and reserve the other half for a dessert dish. Roll the dough out to about ¼” thick. Slice the pastry into 4” squares. Form fit the pastry into the muffin pan.
Place the squares in muffing pan and fill the pastry with the chicken mixture. Top with a teaspoon of Camembert cheese and a 3 or 4 blueberries.
Bake at 400° for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry puffs and turns golden brown.
Roasted Winter Vegetables
Toss carrots, broccoli and cauliflower in olive oil. Spread the vegetables out on parchment lined backing tray. Roast in the oven at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove and keep warm.
Or, if you want to burn them, leave them in a 400° oven for 45 minutes, like I did. There I was trying to salvage leftover vegetable tray fodder and I incinerated the whole lot. Oh well, that’s the way things roll in my kitchen, sometimes.
Slice the onion very thin and set aside.
Mix the milk and vinegar together in a large bowl (this is a decent substitute for buttermilk). Soak the onions in the buttermilk for several minutes.
Heat a pot of oil on the stove at medium/high heat (325° to 350° works well.
Add the flour and seasoning salt to a large mixing bowl.
Toss the onions in the flour mixture to coat.
Add the onions to the oil and fry until golden brown and crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined platter and keep warm.
Serve two stuffed pastry shells with mashed potatoes, topped with turkey gravy and fried onions.
Dessert: Cherry and Cream Cheese Tarts
Assemble 12 pastry cups using the same method as before. Fill each one with 2 teaspoons of cream cheese and top with cherry pie filling. Bake at 400° for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry puffs and turns golden brown.