Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chicken and Mushroom Orzo

After playing squash with friend MC, we hit the supermarket to buy food for dinner. I told her I was out of inspiration for meal ideas and she would have to figure out what we would be eating. She responded that she only needed to walk through a supermarket and get inspired. Perfect! When MC saw mushrooms, she immediately thought it should be our main ingredient. That's when I realized that you can divide people into two groups, those who LOVE mushrooms and those who HATE mushrooms. I've never met anyone who's neutral about mushrooms. MC remembered a Rachael Ray orzo recipe she had previously made and we bought all of the ingredients we needed.

Before dinner, I served some kielbasa and Monterey Jack with Garlic and Basil cheese that I bought in Wisconsin. I discovered kielbasa, a Polish sausage, in Hamilton when my sister introduced me to it. My sister used to work with a Polish colleague who brought her to a Polish deli. I should really write a post about it one day. I thought MC should experience kielbasa since I always buy some to bring back to Montréal (although I'm sure could find some there!). As for the cheese, though the basil flavour was great, I thought the cheese was rather mild. Nothing too exciting...!

Wisconsin cheese and kielbasa.

Chicken and Mushroom Orzo - Serves 2
Adapted from Rachael Ray's Chicken with Mushrooms and Balsamic Cream Sauce. I think sun-dried tomatoes make any pasta taste better and its addition to this dish proved I am right! One trick that MC thought very useful is that if you buy chicken broth and you do not use it all, freeze it into ice cubes and you use it for next time!

* ¼ lb orzo pasta, cooked and drained, saving some of the cooking water
* 1 boneless chicken breasts, grilled and sliced
* butter
* 1 large shallots, thinly sliced
* a good amount of mushrooms of your choice (we used portobello and oyster mushrooms. remember mushrooms shrink - we cooked a lot!)
* 1 garlic cloves, chopped
* fresh thyme leaves, chopped
* a glug of Marsala wine
* ¾ cup 1 L (4 cups) homemade chicken broth, or store-bought
* a glug balsamic vinegar
* 1-2 tbsp heavy cream or half-and-half

Add butter to a pan on medium/high heat.
Once the butter melts, add the shallot.
Once the shallot has softened, add the mushrooms and brown for about 4-5 minutes.
When the mushrooms are browned, season with salt and pepper then add the garlic and thyme.
Add the Marsala wine and let it reduce.
Add the stock, balsamic vinegar and the cream.
Turn the heat up to high and simmer for about 2 minutes or until thickened.
Add the pasta cooking water if needed.
Add the chicken back and sun-dried tomatoes, and let it warm up.
To serve, pile orzo on dinner plates and top with the mushroom and chicken mixture.

Grilling chicken and cooking mushrooms.

I really liked the addition of sun-dried tomatoes!

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