Monday, October 16, 2006

Comfort food

Saturday after market, I was feeling a bit tired and needy. O.K. I was feeling a lot tired. I had another one of those wake up at 3 am and not able to get back to sleep until it was time to get up and get ready for market. But I digress. In any case, I stopped at Victory (a small locally owned grocery store) and picked up the fixings for Scandinavian Chicken Salad. Comfort food if ever there was one. I know that the recipe looks long and involved, but it really isn't.

The following recipe came to the family with my husband, Bill. In as much as I know its history, it originated from a restaurant called Scanway, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was slightly modified by Bill. He eventually went to that restaurant once and tried their version after he had been making it for a couple of years, and, as is usually the case, it was not nearly as good as what he made at home.

Heart of the dish

2 chicken breasts
dry white wine
salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, celery tops, herbes de Provence
romaine lettuce (use iceberg lettuce in desperation only)
white rice (preferably basmati)
curry powder
green onion
whipping cream
plain yogurt
one can of mandarin oranges (in light syrup)
slivered almonds (not toasted!)
one large orange
english cucumber

Skin two chicken breasts and poach them in a 50:50 mixture of white wine and water. Also include two bay leaves, some thyme, rosemary, celery tops (the leafy bit), black pepper, salt, and herbes de Provence. Use a low heat for a long time so the chicken will be very tender.

Cook two cups of rice, preferably white basmati or some long-grained white rice. First rinse the rice several times with cold water to remove some of the soluble starch. Drain it well. Add two cups of water for the two cups of rice. Bring the rice to a boil over high heat and as soon as it begins to boil turn the burner to low. Simmer for 15 minutes and then turn off the burner and let the rice sit, covered, for another 15 minutes. When the rice is cooked, add about a third of a cup of butter, some curry powder, and one finely chopped green onion. You should use enough curry powder to give the rice a light flavour; it should kiss you with sweetness, not assault you with heat.

Prepare a sauce from a 50:50 mixture of plain yogurt and whipped cream. Carefully fold into the sauce some of the juice from the can of mandarin oranges until it has a light sweet flavour.

For this dish presentation is important so assemble the plate as follows. Prepare a bed of lettuce, romaine or iceberg. Spoon and shape a pile of rice on the lettuce. Break the chicken into small chunks (about the size of a mandarin orange section) and dot the top of the rice with chunks of chicken and mandarin sections. Spoon a generous quantity of the sauce over the chicken, orange, and rice. Garnish as follows. Take a slice from the centre of an orange and two slices of English cucumber. With one slice of cucumber on each side of the orange slice, split and twist the three of them and place in the centre of the sauce. Surround with a few sections of mandarin. Sprinkle with shaved almonds. I know there are no almonds shown in the picture. For me it's an allergy thing. As for the missing mandarins....ooops.

This dish is one that we all absolutely love. Even on the hottest day in summer this dish sits lightly on the stomach.

As given the recipe serves three. We double the recipe because there are six of us. Oh, and the stock you have left after poaching the chicken is a fantastic chicken stock for any use. As a starter for chicken soup it can't be surpassed.


amanda said...

Looks divine! I've bookmarked it for the next time I need a little inspiration in the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

Comfort food sounds Like it's right up my alley... unfortunately, I don't eat meat! But the recipe does sound very good (I used to eat meat so I can appreciate a good recipe when I come across one!)

Thanks to you and your husband for the support. I really do appreciate it. I am doing better. It's amazing what time and the support of friends and family can do!

Julia said...

I still haven't tasted that comfort food yet. :^(