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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Using up leftovers

We were supposed to have meatballs for dinner. That was the plan. My Pineapple Meatballs, to be specific, served with rice and broccoli. I had it all planned out. But when I opened the freezer to remove the ground beef to defrost it, I spied a freezer bag of leftover cooked chicken. I couldn't remember how long it had been in the freezer -- the bag was unlabelled, totally unlike me. I own Sharpies of every colour and take great delight in being able to use them to label the large zippie bags when packing up food for the freezer. So my guess is that this had been stashed in a rush. I quickly re-evaluated dinner and decided it was best to use up the chicken; the ground beef can wait for another day.

Which led to the dilemma of .... what to make for dinner. It had been planned; it was a no-brainer. A family favourite. Now what? But I quickly found a recipe I'd made in the past, with leftover turkey. Turkey ... chicken. No difference, really.

And it turned out pretty darn good. I can't call it healthy -- it has butter and sour cream and light cream after all. I could've gone ahead with the planned broccoli side dish, but just went with a salad instead. That was the healthy addition to the meal!

And the best part? Yummy leftovers perfect for lunch!

Here's the recipe:


1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup light cream
1 cup sour cream (I use full fat as sometimes I find the lowfat stuff curdles when heated)
2 cups grated parmesan cheese (I use a domestic cheese that I buy, pre-grated, in tubs in the deli section of my grocery store; I am NOT using the good stuff in a dish like this)
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 minced garlic cloves
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry mustard (I use a heaping tsp)
a good shake of cayenne pepper
salt, to taste
6 cups cubed cooked chicken meat
1 pound fusilli, cooked (use any pasta you want)
1 tablespoon paprika (to make it pretty)
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese (or more, it's for the top)

Yes, the ingredients list is long. But the method is short. And easy. First, preheat oven to 350F. Then put on a pot of water to boil; when it comes to the boil, salt it, then add the pasta. Cook until al dente; drain.

Meanwhile, in a dutch oven or any large pot you have, melt the butter over medium heat, then add the flour, turn the heat down to low, and whisk until all is combined. This takes about a minute. Then add the ingredients from the chicken broth down to the cayenne pepper and salt. Whisk away. Crank the heat up a bit, to just below medium, and let the mixture start to thicken.

And when it does start to thicken up, stir in the chicken and turn the heat off.

At this point, the pasta should be ready and you can go ahead and stir in the cooked pasta too. Turn out into a large casserole dish -- I spray it with non-stick cooking spray, like Pam, but I don't know if it's really necessary -- and smooth the top, then sprinkle on the paprika and extra parmesan cheese.

Now just bake it for 30 minutes. That's it. Everyone liked it. It should feed at least six people, too.

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