Saturday, September 22, 2012

Top Recipe - Kerry Heffernan's Florentine-Inspired Chicken with Orzo and Asparagus Ragout

Florentine-Inspired Chicken with Orzo and Asparagus Ragout

Remove breasts (whole with skin and bone intact) of 2 small chickens, and cut each in half. Cut legs and remaining carcass into half-inch pieces.

6 ounces of orzo (or any pasta), cooked in salted boiling water till al dente. Shock in ice water, then drain well and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside.

4 ounces of baby spinach, cleaned and rinsed

One small bunch of asparagus finely cut on a bias, heads split

1 ounce of pine nuts, toasted and set aside

3 ounces of whole butter

2 ounces of heavy cream

1 quart brown veal stock

8 slices black truffle

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

3 sprigs tarragon, stems removed and leaves minced

Using a shallow roasting pan, place chicken legs and carcasses in a 450°oven. Brown legs, turning often until well-colored; strain all fat. Place browned bones into 4 quart sauce pot and cover with the veal stock (and water if necessary); bring to simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, skimming constantly. Strain liquids, discard bones. Reduce liquid to 1 cup, skimming constantly and carefully checking the seasoning. Set aside but keep warm.

Heat a 10-inch sauté pan and add 1 ounce of heavy cream. Place spinach, stirring frequently until completely wilted. Season well with salt and pepper, and place the entire mixture into a blender. Puree well. Check seasoning, and set aside.

Heat a 12-inch sauté pan until quite hot, and add 1 ounce of canola oil. Place chicken breasts, seasoned very well with salt and pepper, skin-side down in the very hot pan. Cook on medium heat until chicken is well-browned, and then place in 400° oven for additional 10 to 12 minutes until just done. Set aside, keeping the chicken warm.

In a 10-inch sauté pan, heat 1 ounce of butter, adding sliced asparagus and salt and pepper, with 3 ounces of water. Cook over medium to high heat, adding garlic and cooked orzo when asparagus is barely tender. Season well with salt and pepper. Finish with minced tarragon and an additional ounce of butter, swirling to gently combine. Set aside and keep warm.

In a 6-inch sauté pan, roast toasted pine nuts and one ounce of butter. Heat until butter turns slightly brown. Immediately add mixture to blender, and purée well. Set aside.

Warm the spinach mixture, adding a bit of cream and butter if needed. Check seasoning and set aside.

Remove chicken from bones and slice on a bias, arranging attractively on four plates.

Add any accumulated juices from chicken to chicken stock, bringing combined liquid to a simmer. Check seasoning, strain again, and add sliced truffles.

Judiciously drizzle sauce around and over chicken so that there is just an attractive streak on the plate.

Spoon warm orzo and asparagus mixture into the center of the plate.

Spoon an attractive streak of spinach on the edge of the plate. Finish with a "Cordon" of the pine nut and butter mixture around the edge of the plate. Serve immediately.

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