Smoked Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

One day I wanted to quickly make a nice meal for someone that was sick, but I didn’t have my “normal” stuff around the house. I took stock and invented with this recipe out of what I had on hand. My family loves this rich dish redolent of smoked chicken, garlic, and parmesan! Because parmesan is a gift box item and because the dish has about a zillion calories per serving, we only have it for special occasions. I hope you enjoy it! This serves about 12 people, so you may need to cut it down!

1 stick butter + a few Tbs to sauté

3/4 cup flour

4 cloves fresh garlic, minced (or to taste)

2 lbs smoked chicken breast

2 lbs fresh mushrooms

2 lbs fresh broccoli

1 cup parmesan cheese

3 cups chicken stock

1 qt or more milk

pepper and salt to taste

500 g cooked pasta, cooked al dente.

I decided not to insult your intelligence by showing step by step photos since this is a fairly standard uncomplicated recipe! Here are the major players prepped and ready to begin assembly. On this day I didn’t have fresh mushrooms so used canned. Fresh are better. You can use unsmoked chicken, but it really is the smoked chicken that stars in this entree. If you don’t have smoked chicken but have smoked gouda cheese, you could also add a cup of that grated. A few julienned carrots would brighten it up even more, too. Be flexible- have fun!

Slice and sauté your chicken breasts until slightly brown and set aside.

Slice the mushrooms, sauté in skillet until brown. Set aside.

Cut the broccoli into florets, steam lightly (just until bright green). Set aside.

Melt the stick of butter in your skillet, add garlic, then slowly add the flour until smooth.

Gradually add the chicken broth, stirring to keep smooth. Cook a bit to thicken, then do the same with the milk. You have to be careful to cook this slowly on medium heat. If it boils, the milk may curdle. The only difficult thing about this dish is to take your time making it. Don’t let the anticipation cause you to rush! Trust me, it will be worth your while to cook it slowly.

When the sauce is smooth and thick, stir in the parmesan cheese. Add the mushrooms and chicken as you continue heating. After this has sufficiently warmed with all of these things added, taste for saltiness. Since broth, chicken, and parmesan all have salt, it may not need added salt, but at this point add salt and pepper to taste. I enjoy using fresh black pepper in good quantity, but it’s up to you! If it’s too thick, lighten with more milk and/or broth. If it’s too thin, thicken with a mixture of flour and milk.

At the last minute add the broccoli and heat only until warm. Don’t cook it much because you want a nice bright green crispy tender broccoli to offset the thick, rich sauce! Having the broccoli showing off in your alfredo classifies it as health food and makes you feel better.

I serve the sauce and the noodles in separate bowls and let each person mix it to taste. The noodles absorb the sauce quickly and all the “goodies” tend to go to the bottom of the bowl if you serve them premixed.

Serve it  up and dig in! Keep the sides light. Enjoy!

Those bread sticks are a story for another day. Amazing! Hopefully Faith can tell you about those… Yum.

Stuffed Zucchini

Tonight I was experimenting and came up with a recipe which my daughters and I much enjoyed. I thought I’d share it! These make a nice side dish or a vegetarian main dish. (As a matter of fact, this is what I ate for dinner this evening!)

Stuffed Zucchini

Ingredients:

6 zucchini with ends trimmed off

2 pounds fresh mushrooms, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/4 large purple onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2 T. butter

1 t. Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

2 slices bread, crumbed in blender

1 cup gouda cheese

1/2 cup parmesan

24 cubes feta (optional)

Put the zucchini into boiling, salted water for ten minutes until they are slightly soft. Slice them in half. Scoop out the seeds and save.

While the zucchini is boiling, saute the mushrooms, red pepper, onion, fresh garlic in the butter until most of the water has cooked off the mushrooms. Add the zucchini seeds to this mixture along with the Italian seasoning. Lightly salt, remembering that the cheese is already a bit salty, and grate a hefty of fresh pepper into the mix. Saute for a few more moments.

Mix the bread crumbs (if you use store bought crumbs, use about 1 1/2 cups), grated gouda, and parmesan cheeses in a bowl. Then stir the vegetables into the cheesey goodness.

Spoon this mixture into the scooped out zucchinis. Stick two squares of feta cheese into each one. I thought the mixture needed the salty tang of feta, but since we rarely have it due to its expense here, and only now because it’s left over from my birthday, I compromised on two little cubes in each half. But if you have a fridge full of feta- go for it:) Bake for about half an hour in a 400 degree oven. At the last minute, broil the top until nicely browned. Enjoy!

I know the one on the left looks like a stuffed dill pickle- but I only got the idea of blogging this after they were mostly gone so there wasn’t much choice!

Family Chicken

Recipes float around the web, many of them trendy, some retro, and others really off-beat. Trying new ones can be risky. Have they been tested? Is the developer strong on the write-up, but weak on delivery? You can put all those questions to rest with this recipe. Found in a cookbook from 1899, it has been in Mom’s family for decades, and cooked so many times that it has come to be known simply as “Family Chicken.”

I ask you- Can a recipe this well-loved not be delicious?

In my whole life, I don’t think I’ve ever made one batch at a time of this marinade. People love it so much that we usually make 4-6 times the recipe, and then hope that we have a few pieces leftover to eat cold out of the refrigerator the next morning (many of our favorite way to eat it).

It only takes a few minutes to whip this together. Probably you have all of the ingredients already in your pantry. Here they are, so you can get started…

Who knew oil, vinegar, black pepper, salt, eggs and poultry seasoning could be so magical?

First, measure out the oil into your bowl…

If you’re worried about the amount of oil in this recipe, don’t be. It’s a marinade, and very little of it will be absorbed.

Next, dump in the vinegar…

It’s best with apple cider vinegar, but we didn’t have any. Rice vinegar will also work, in a pinch.

Then add salt…

Again, please don’t be concerned about the amount of salt in this recipe. Most of it will not be absorbed by the chicken. No matter how much you’re tempted, resist cutting down the salt from the prescribed amount. People have asked for this recipe in the past, and then complained that it didn’t taste like ours. When asked if they cut the salt, they always admitted that they had.

Next add pepper…

…poultry seasoning…

…eggs…

…and then whisk ingredients together…

until thoroughly combined.

Now grab a container of some kind (we used large jars, because they fit well into our fridge, held a lot of chicken, and kept all the pieces covered in marinade), and fill it up with chicken pieces.

Ladle marinade over the top…

…until all the chicken pieces are covered.

For the life of me, I couldn’t get a straight shot of this chicken. You’d think I was on a ship, not a balcony overlooking the river.

Make sure to marinate an abundance of chicken, and try to prepare it at least two days in advance, so it has plenty of time to soak up all that great marinade flavor.

We made four jars worth, to accommodate one of our large Sunday night crowds.

In passing, I think every ridiculously large mayonnaise jar secretly dreams of being filled with family chicken, don’t you? :)

As I said before, it’s best if you make it two days in advance, but you should at least let it marinate overnight before you cook it. We find that the chicken is best if it’s cooked outdoors and has that nice char-grilled flavor. However, it’s also acceptable to bake it in the oven until it’s golden brown.

You could serve it on your balcony overlooking the river, or you could do what we did and serve it to these friends…

…plus these friends…

…in addition to these friends…

…for Sunday dinner. Our friends here all love family chicken, and it’s hard to make enough so that we have a little left over to eat cold for breakfast. :) We’re glad to be able to share this special treat, passed down through Mom’s family, with our China family now. Maybe you should make some for your family this week!

Family Chicken-

1/2 cup oil

1 cup vinegar (preferably apple cider vinegar)

2 tablespoons salt (don’t scrimp!)

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

Chicken pieces (I just realized I have absolutely no idea how much chicken 1 batch of marinade covers. Maybe 8 pieces? I’ve never made that little.)

Directions

Mix marinade ingredients together and whisk well. Place chicken in container and cover with marinade. Store in refrigerator for 2 days, shaking occasionally to redistribute ingredients. Bake or grill until golden brown and cooked through. Be sure to make plenty, because this chicken goes fast!

Mmmm- here’s a plateful of tangy, juicy, crispy perfection. Come on, join the family; make some Family Chicken for your loved ones! :)