Monday, April 12, 2010

Chicken with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce over Roast Asparagus and Tomato Farro

Cream cheese and I are old friends. Back in the day when I first started cooking, I discovered its magic in desserts like pound cakes and pastry crust. When I got confident enough to entertain with food, I put it in these fantastically white trash chicken pastry pockets (with chopped green onions and sauteed shallots - delish.) And today the relationship is as strong as ever, as the creamy, white-as-nun's-thighs paste continues to astound me with its versatility.

Case in point - this gorgonzola cream sauce. It cuts the sharpness of the cheese just enough to make it presentable to a variety of appetites (unless you're my father in law or Jon Marshall, a dear friend who redefines being a meat and potatoes man) but probably my favorite part of this meal is - you guessed it - the farro. When the extra sauce leaks over the chicken and onto those wheaty kernels and the roasted tomatoes and asparagus, you understand why Alice Waters started a veggie movement all those years ago.

Thank you Alice - this one's for you.

Chicken with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce over Roast Asparagus and Tomato Farro
* The farro should be soaked in water (enough to cover it by two inches) for several hours ahead of cooking, ideally. Otherwise you'll just need to increase the simmering time by 20 minutes or so. No biggie.
* If you have a good cast iron dutch oven, such as a Le Creuset, put the lid on it after making the farro and it should stay warm until everything else is ready.
* This serves 2-4 people, but you'll have lots of extra farro. Take it for lunch the next day or use it to stuff portabellos for a scrumptious vegetarian dinner.

• 20 asparagus spears, sliced into 1 inch chunks
• 1 bunch cherry tomatoes (from a plastic carton)
• Pinch salt and white pepper
• 1 teaspoon butter
• 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375. Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat with the butter and olive oil. Once the butter is melted, add in the asparagus and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and saute stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Transfer the veg to a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.

A few hours before cooking, soak 1 cup of farro in a large pot of water. At cooking time, drain the farro then return to the pan covering with fresh water (enough to clear it by 3 inches.) Add a 1/2 tablespoon of kosher or sea salt and bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to simmer for 30 min. Drain. Rinse well. Return the farro to a warm pan. Add in:

• the roasted veggies
• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• the juice of 1 lemon
• a handful of minced flat leaf parsley
• two handfuls of minced basil
• salt and white pepper, to taste

Set aside while you make the chicken (or if you're really on the ball, saute the chicken during the last half of the farro cooking time and keep warm in the oven while you make the sauce for everything to time out.)

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the same large pan from before and bring over medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add 2-4 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets (seasoned with salt and pepper) to pan, cooking until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a low oven to keep warm while you make the sauce. Add another dash of oil and 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter to the pan over medium heat. Once the butter melts, add in:

• 3/4 cup finely diced sweet onion
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Saute, stirring occasionally until the onion is nice and soft - about 7 minutes. Add in 3/4 cup of dry white wine and bring to a boil. Cook down until the majority of the liquid gas evaporated, then lower the heat to low and stir in:

• 1 oz reduced fat cream cheese
• 2.5 oz gorgonzola
• 2 tablespoons low sodium chicken stock

Stir gently until all the cheese melts and you've got a nice smooth sauce. Serve the chicken over a heaping pile of the farro and top with a spoonful of sauce. Garnish with extra minced flat leaf parsley if desired.


Jenn said...

All right, I'll admit it.. I have never had, nor even heard of Farro before now. But, OMG, do you make it look scrumptious! And I'm with you...cream ranks right up there with bacon!! MMMMMMM!!!

Bridgett said...

Oh my goodness! The gorgonzola cream sauce must have been divine. Such a great use of textures and flavors here. A very elegant meal.