I'm moving into a new kitchen in seven glorious days. It's still New York, so it'll still be a skinny kitchen, but not high fashion, runway skinny, more commercial, toothpaste ad skinny. With this impending move, I have vowed not to buy any new groceries and therefore have had to get a little creative with meal making as of late. Today I was craving something hearty but not too heavy. I had one roast chicken breast left, two stalks of broccoli, a few yellow onions, leftover marinara sauce, and whole wheat pasta. I could have just chucked it all together and had a pretty tasty, albeit a little boring, pasta meal, but that would 1.Not be blog worthy, and 2.There isn't a really a number 2, but the list seems incomplete without it. Then I thought of a delicious pasta meal that I made with my friend Emily last week. I went to her place, and used her food so it was free, and free always makes food taste better. Also, she provided me with a meal to blog about, so she is appearing on the blog. If you do the same, you can be a skinny kitchen fatty blog celeb too. So Emily and a bottle of wine had a little argument the night before, and she was craving something hearty and dairy laden in which to drown her hungover and dehydrated sorrows. This is akin to eating your feelings, but you have to have something fried or chocolate or all you can eat to really fall into that category. I fall into it a lot.
So cream sauces get a bad rap a lot of the time. I think it has to do with one of three possible reasons.
1. Cream sauces are calorie laden and bad for you therefore they are the devil.
Wah wah wah! I'm not asking you to eat cream sauce by the cupful every day that ends in 'Y' (which is all of them for any of you who started listing mentally in your head past Tuesday - foolish). Firstly, I use cream sauce in flavorful applications so that I can use less of it and therefore feel less like I need someone to staple my stomach shut at the end of the day. Secondly, my cream sauce isn't really cream based (unless I'm feeling particularly jaunty, or there is a really good reason for full fat dairy -- like a breakup, or a bat mitzfah). My "cream" sauce is really a "milk" sauce cleverly disguised and taking advantage of young women from here to somewhere in central Virginia.
2. Cream sauces are complicated and you don't have time to make them because you have a busy life with lots of great friends and an important job and a beautiful significant other to make sweet sweet gorilla love to.
Well lucky for you, I am bereft and indifferent to the desires of the human heart in tandem with being unemployed, so I can tell you with certainty that making my "cream" sauce is not so hard, or time consuming. It can make you feel even more accomplished than you obviously already are, and will totally earn you brownie points with the bedfellow of your choice - man, woman or primate.
3. You are lactose intolerant...
So am I, deal with it.
*Note: In the spirit of full frontal discretion, I have to say that this cream sauce I speak of is mostly referrred to as a bechamel sauce. Bechamel is a thick and creamy sauce which is usually milk based, and amongst the culinary set, is considered one of the five mother sauces, from which all other sauces are derived.
So back to the recipe at hand. I had some good ingredients, but I wanted something a little more indulgent. So I did what any broke actress would do. I used the delusional and artistic part of my brain, which I have been honing for the past eight years, to convince myself that I could elevate these simple ingredients into something fancier and more unctuous than just a bowl of pasta....and you know what? It worked out pretty well.
So here are the fruits of my labor.
If It Was An Acceptable Practice To Bathe In Cream Sauce...Well You Can Just Use Your Imagination Rotini With Roast Chicken and Carmelized Onions in a Creamy Pink Sauce.
3 medium yellow onions sliced thin (1/8 inch)
1 tsp sugar
2 cps cooked chicken cut into bite sized pieces
2 stalks broccoli chopped small (1/2 inch)
2 T flour
1 cp milk (Any kind is fine. I used skim. Don't use chocolate)
1 1/2 cps marinara sauce
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 lb dried rotini (you can use a different kind of pasta, just make sure it's small shape and not a long noodle)
1/2 cp grated parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper
First...Put a large pot of water on to boil on a back burner (I'm not talking about a small pot. I mean a big mama pot...think the kind with two handles on each side, not something you make rice in)
In the same saute pan heat another tablespoon of oil over medium high heat and add the broccoli. Salt and pepper and saute for about 10 minutes or until they start to brown a little on the edges, but still remain crisp. Remove to the plate with the onions.
Add the pasta to the boiling water, making sure to liberally salt the water just before adding the pasta and stir to keep the pasta from sticking for at the first 30 seconds.
Turn the heat on your saute pan down to medium and add the remaining two tablespoons of oil. Then add the flour and whisk to combine. It will form a paste (just like when we made gravy...mmm gravy). Just keep stirring the paste (which is called a roux btw) making sure the oil and flour are fully integrated for about 4 minutes.
Add the milk to the roux and whisk to combine thoroughly making sure to whisk out any lumps. When the mixture comes to a boil it will begin to thicken (you basically want it to coat the back of a spoon without dribbling off). Salt and pepper to taste, but be light with the seasoning, there are still a lot of ingredients to come.
Add the marinara sauce, broccoli, chicken and onions and stir to combine. Check for seasoning and make any additional adjustments now, remembering that the cheese will add some more salt to the dish, so don't overdo it now.
When the pasta is done reserve 1/2 cp of the cooking liquid and drain the rest. Toss the pasta in with the sauce and add the reserved pasta water and lemon juice
Simmer for 5 minutes, sprinkle with the cheese and serve.
Now you have the fanciest hangover food on the block! Time to draw some pictures.
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See ya soon!