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    Stuffed Chicken Breast

    I suppose you can call this recipe Chicken Cordon Bleu which technically it is here is my version with a little twist. At one of the food demonstrations I provide an associate was passing out samples of that good old snack “string cheese” and handed me one to try. Since I’ve had string cheese before so I decided to take it home and create a recipe. This recipe will take a little effort but is well worth it.

    You will need:

    Chicken Breast — 6 to 8 oz/per serving. boneless and skinless.
    Ham Slice — one/serving, use a good quality of your choice but stay away from those that have water added.
    String Cheese — one stick/serving
    Egg — one large/serving
    Dijon Mustard — one tsp/serving
    Flour — enough to dust breasts
    Bread Crumbs — enough to coat breast – I use a Panko style crumb.
    Plastic Wrap &#151 enough to wrap the breast.

    Using paper towels pat the chicken breast dry then lay flat on a cutting board, place hand flat on top of the breast and with a sharp knife, preferably a boning knife, insert as close to the center of the breast as possible making a slit at least one inch wide. Slowly push blade into breast using your hand to “feel” it go into the bird. Carefully work the blade around the inside of the breast creating a pocket. After you create the pocket, insert your index finger into the pocket to enlarge without breaking through the meat. To make sure that you do not contaminate the chicken use a rubber glove or wrap you finger in cling wrap/plastic wrap. Set aside.

    Place one slice of ham on a work surface, pull apart the string cheese thin enough to cover the slice then tightly roll the ham to form a tight log. Carefully insert the ham log into the pocket of the breast until it is completely inside. In a receptacle large enough and deep enough to hold chicken add egg and dijon mustard and whisk well. In two separate receptacles add flour in one and bread crumbs in the other. Dredge the chicken breast in the flour, dip into the egg/mustard mixture then dredge with the bread crumbs. Place the coated chicken onto a sheet of plastic wrap tucking the thinner part under the thicker part. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for 15 minutes to one half hour. This will help set the coating reducing the possibility of the coating falling off during cooking.

    Place approximately one TBSP of oil, I used olive, into an oven proof sauté pan large enough to hold the breast(s). When the oil starts to shimmer add breasts and brown on all sides. Place sauté pan into a preheated (350 degree) oven and finish cooking. Enjoy!

    Apple/Cheddar Stuffed Pork Chop

    I’m not one to stock up on foodstuffs for the week, I shop daily, or at least every other day, for items I want to prepare for dinner. I hadn’t had pork in a while and thought that a good thick cut pork chop would suite my desire. I went to my favorite market whose butcher area is fantastic and purchased a couple of thick cut chops. By thick cut I mean at least 1 inch in thickness.

    At the time I was shopping one of their suppliers, Cabot® Cheese Coop had a display of their product. What caught my attention was the sales associate’s comment that their cheese products are lactose free and since I have a friend who recently learned that she was intolerant I thought to include them in my repertoire.

    So I thought, what goes good with pork and cheese, specifically Cheddar, the one I decided to purchase. Apples, of course. I took my groceries home and developed this recipe for all to enjoy. This recipe will feed two and multiplying is straight forward.

    You will need:

    2 Thick Cut Pork Chop – I used a bone in chop however a loin chop will work.
    2/3 cup diced Granny Smith apple – dice smaller than ¼”.
    1/3 cup diced Cabot White Cheddar Cheese – dice same size as apple.
    One tsp fresh Sage.
    One TBSP bread crumb – I used Panko.
    Ground Pepper to taste.

    Combine apple, cheese, pepper and bread crumbs in a bowl. Toss and let stand while you prepare the chop. Using a very sharp knife, I use a good quality boning knife, cut a slit approximately 1 1/2″ long in the center of the thickest part of the chop. Carefully work the blade of the knife into the flesh of the chop. Place your free hand on top of the chop so to feel the movement of the blade. Work the knife into the cavity you have created making sure to open enough room leaving at least a 1/4 inch of wall around the entire chop. Carefully stuff the apple/cheese mixture into the cavity pressing it tightly to compact.

    In a sauté pan large enough to hold the chops sear on both sides to get a good brown crust. Place the seared chops in a preheated, 350 degree, oven and cook until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees. Remove from oven, place on clean plate, tent with foil and let rest for 15 minutes. I served mine with home made egg noodles and sweet corn kernels.

    Enjoy!

    Shrimp Linguine Alfredo

    This is a real simple recipe that anybody can prepare. I takes less than 30 minutes and you will be the toast of the town with your family and friends.

    You will need:

    Uncooked Shrimp – I used 30’s for this recipe however you can use any size as long as they have the shell and weigh approximately 1/3 to 1/2 pound/serving

    Olive Oil

    Unsalted Butter

    Nutmeg – if you don’t have the whole bean do not use grated from the jar just omit. The taste will change somewhat but it will be just fine.

    Heavy Cream – approx 1/4 cup/serving

    Sea Salt/Pepper – I used white pepper here as to not speckle the final sauce but cracked black pepper will work just fine.

    Romano Cheese – approximately one Tablespoon/serving

    Parmesan Cheese – approximately one Tablespoon/serving.

    Fresh or Dried Linguine – I used Linguine Fini for this recipe but you can use the larger pasta or substitute Fettuccini if you prefer.

    NB: The sauce will take approximately 15 minutes to prepare, so be sure to cook the pasta so that it is finished when the sauce is ready.

    Prepare the Shrimp – if the shrimp you purchased was not cleaned by the fish monger make a slit on the back cutting through the shell and clean out. In a sauté pan large, enough to hold the shrimp add some olive oil and heat to a high simmer (when the oil shimmers you know it is the proper temperature). If you do not have a large enough pan, you can do this in batches. Sauté shrimp on both sides until the shell turns a nice shade of pink (do not cook all the way through, as the shrimp will be finished in the sauce). When shrimp is done place in a bowl to cool enough to be able to remove shells. DO NOT clean the pan at this stage.

    Prepare the sauce:
    When shrimp is cool enough to work with remove and discard shells. Cut shrimp into bite size pieces. In the sauté pan you used to do the first step of the shrimp, heat olive oil and butter, it will be ready when the oil shimmers. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the heated sauté pan. The time it will take to cook the shrimp will depend on the size you decided to use. When the shrimp is almost totally opaque add the heavy cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Bring the cream up to a simmer then add the cheeses. You cannot walk away from this sauce, as the cream will burn if you are not careful. Either swirl the cream by working the pan in circles or stir regularly until the cream and cheese start to thicken. It is done when the shrimp is firm to the touch and the sauce has noticeably thickened. Drain the pasta and spoon enough of the sauce over it to coat.

    Plate the coated pasta then add the shrimp and balance of sauce. Grate a little more nutmeg over the plated pasta and enjoy.

    Parziale Pastiera

    Lydia P.

    This recipe has been in my family forever. It comes from my father’s side of the family and my father and his siblings each inherited an enamel baking pan from my grandmother. These baking pans, 13 ½ inches in diameter, were from my grandfather’s bakery and had very, very long handles for use in my grandfather’s huge brick ovens. They cut the handles off of these pans for use at home.

    You will need:
    1-2 lbs ricotta cheese
    2-4 handfuls of pecorino romano cheese (half a pound works better)
    8 Italian sausage, cooked and sliced thin
    1/2 lb perciatelli, broken into thirds
    1 dozen eggs

    Preheat oven to 350F
    Fry the sausage. Boil the macaroni.
    Beat the eggs, add the ricotta and romano cheeses to the egg mixture. When the pasta is cooked and drained, add that to the egg mixture. Slice the sausage, add to the mixture.

    Grease the pan with the sausage fat. (13″ round enamel pan is best)
    I took 3 tablespoons of sausage fat and greased the pan with that and did not add any more fat to the mixture. Pour mixture into pan and smooth it out on top so there is no macaroni sticking out of the top (unless you like burnt, crunchy macaroni).

    Bake for 1 hour or until knife comes out clean. (mine took 70-75 minutes) It will be brown (NOT burnt!) on top.
    This can be served either hot or cold. It freezes well, too!

    You can cut this recipe in half and bake it in a glass deep baking dish (13×9) as well.

    When we prepared this recipe we used half the amounts stipulated. Not knowing the size of the handful of cheese mentioned we went with one full cup of Pecorino. It is difficult to determine link size when purchasing the sausage so we went with 2 pounds.

    As you can see in the photograph of our version we used a football shaped baking dish which was sufficient in size to hold everything. Using the fat from the sausage to grease the baking dish hadn’t been tried before by us but really like the idea, it gives the dish a little added dimension.

    Thank you Lydia and congratulations on being the first, of hopefully many, Guest Chef.

    Pasta con Cinque formaggi e el Pancetta

    Pasta with Five Cheeses and Pancetta

    This is not your kids mac and cheese but they will love it too. You can adjust quantities according to your personal taste.

    You will need:
    Parmesan Cheese – shredded – 1/2 cup
    Mozzarella Cheese – 1/2 cup (use fresh not smoked)
    Asiago Cheese – shredded – 1/2 cup
    Fontina Cheese – shredded – 1/2 cup
    Gorgonzola Cheese – 1/4 cup
    Whole Milk – 4 qts – heated
    All purpose Flour – 8 TBS
    Butter – 8 TBS
    Fresh nutmeg
    Pancetta – 1/4 inch thick slice – 1 or 2 depending on taste
    Good quality Italian/french bread (use food processor to crumb) – approximately 1/2 cup
    Salt/pepper – to taste (if you want a cleaner sauce use white pepper)
    Olive Oil
    Tubular or shaped pasta such as penne rigate, radiatore, farfalle, cavatappi or conchiglie – 1 pound

    Prepare pasta by bringing large pot of salted water to a rapid boil, add pasta and cook until just below al dente. In a dutch oven or pot large enough to hold cooked pasta plus one quart liquid heat one tablespoon olive oil. Cut pancetta into 1/4 inch dice, when oil is heated add pancetta. Cook pancetta until crisp, remove from pot with slotted spoon and reserve. Pour off any fat left from pancetta add butter and flour and cook until combined scraping up brown bits from pan. Slowly pour heated milk into pot stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Bring milk to a fast simmer then add Parmesan, Asiago and Fontina cheeses stirring well to allow cheeses to melt. Add salt and pepper to taste and 4 or 5 scrapes of the nutmeg, stir well. Remove from heat, fold in cooked pasta until well coated, crumble gorgonzola cheese into mixture, combine well, cut mozzerella cheese into 1/2 inch chunks then fold into mixture

    Butter a 9 x 13 oven proof dish, pour cheese and pasta mixture into pan and level top, combine bread crumbs with parmesan cheese and cover top. Bake in a 350° F oven until top is golden brown. This works well as a side dish or main course.

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