May 03, 2006

Iron Chef East Bay: local ingredients and leftovers -- a creative exploration

Take some fresh locally produced food from my recent shopping spree. Add some leftover ingredients that have reached the "use or toss" stage. A forty-five minute time limit (I left work late, stopped to shop, and want to eat dinner before I'm thinking about breakfast).

Forget the forty sous chefs at my beck and call. Convert "kitchen stadium" to "kitchen foodie-functional." Nix the TV cameras, the lights, the play-by-play commentary. The menu is three courses, not five. And it's in crayon, not caligraphy. This is a low-budget operation and quality ingredients trump ambiance.

Welcome to Iron Chef East Bay...

The "Locals" (procured on our
field trip last weekend and Monday's grocery adventure):
Arugula (Capay Valley)
Cherry Tomatoes (Capay Valley)
Petaluma Poultry Chicken Breast (Petaluma)
miscellaneous herbs (a gift from a kind neighbor)
olive oil and balsamic vinegar (Oroville)
stemmed shiitakes (Moss Landing)
"Incognito" Viognier (Lodi)

The "Leftovers":
St. Agur Blue Cheese
Clover sour cream

The Inspiration: a google search for "chicken breast" + "blue cheese" + "recipe" yielded several dozen variations of Chicken Cordon Bleu and Buffalo Wings w/ Blue Cheese Dip, plus this gem upon which I built my dinner. Pounded/rolled/stuffed chicken breasts represented more energy than I wanted to expend on a weeknight dinner for one (desiring to be done with dinner before thinking about breakfast).

I chose to saute the chicken in olive oil to brown them and then transferred them to the oven to cook through while I constructed the sauce. A little bit of clarified butter and a couple handfulls of shiitakes sauteed until lightly browned. Deglazed with the viognier that's left in my wine glass. (re-fill wine glass). Turn the heat down and add sour cream and blue cheese. Toss to coat mushrooms. Spoon over chicken breasts. Serve with fresh green salad.

Allez Cuisine!