Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Late Harvest ...

... and, no, I'm not talking about Riesling. Rather I'm speaking of a late harvest from bro's magnificent garden. Having recently had occasion to perform one last garden raid - I have been blessed with an abundance of produce: escarole, radicchio, green peppers, beets, ground cherries and the ubiquitous Swiss chard. Bro's ground is still producing much greatness ... and the chard supply is seemingly endless. Why Mama Diva practically begged on bended knee for me to relieve her of some of it. I was happy to comply, and happy to put it to good use in today's recipe.

This is my new and improved riff on an old Diva favorite. I used to make a similar dish back in the 80's and I believe it may have come from Gourmet magazine. The end result was a rich gratin of chicken and spinach bathed in a Parmesan cream sauce ... made with heavy cream. Yikes! Its probably a good thing for my waistline that I've long since lost the recipe ... but I remember its flavors well. I've added some sauteed crimini mushrooms to the new dish, and they are optional. I like earthy tone they lend to the mix, but if mushrooms aren't your bag, by all means leave them out. Naturally, I've substituted some fat-free half and half for the heavy cream, and reduced the amount of cheese - but, again, the choice is up to you. If you're not dieting, you could certainly opt for the real cream and up the amount of cheese. Either way you'll be rewarded with a luscious, savory gratin that's just perfect for a cool Autumn night.

Chicken and Chard Gratin:

  • 1 or 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup of sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1/2 of a medium white onion, diced
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of non-fat, reduced sodium chicken broth
  • one large bunch of Swiss Chard, washed, chopped and tough stems removed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • generous grating of fresh nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp. Wondra Flour*
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • 1 cup of fat-free Half and Half
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large, cooked chicken breasts (I used grilled chicken.)
  • cooked brown rice or wide egg noodles
Serves 4

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add the mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms are golden brown. Add the onions, shallot and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring often until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown, adding some additional oil if necessary to facilitate the browning.

Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth to the pan and begin adding the chard, a handful at a time, stirring constantly. Allow the chard to wilt and cook down before adding another handful. Continue to add the chard and let it wilt until all of it has been added to the pan. Season the chard with Kosher salt, ground black pepper, grated nutmeg to taste and 1/4 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes. Stir well to combine.

When all of the chard has cooked, push it to one side of the pan - the liquid will begin to collect on the opposite side. To this liquid, add the Wondra Flour and stir well to combine. The Wondra Flour will thicken slightly, when it does, mix with the rest of the chard and add the white wine and fat-free Half and Half and stir well to combine. Add 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, stirring well to combine. Taste and re-season, adding more salt, pepper and nutmeg if desired. Add the chopped chicken, stir to combine, and allow the mixture to simmer on low for 5 minutes until the chicken has been warmed. (You may add a bit of chicken broth if the sauce becomes to thick - but go easy on it.) Remove from heat.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and coat a large casserole dish with a thin layer of olive oil. Pour the chicken and chard mixture into the prepared casserole dish and top with the remaining 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for approximately 35 to 40 minutes, or until the gratin is bubbling hot and the top is beginning to brown. Serve immediately over some cooked brown rice or wide egg noodles. Enjoy!

*The Wondra Flour isn't strictly Beachy, but its an easy way to give the sauce a bit of body. Its optional, so if you're strict you may leave it out. Either way, this will not be a thick sauce. If you're not on the Beach you may also choose to thicken the sauce with a beurre manie, made of 1 tbsp. of soften butter mixed well with 1 tbsp. of all-purpose flour. If so, add the beurre manie after you have added the cream, stir well to let it melt and allow it to thicken, then proceed with the instructions as written.

You'd do well to serve this dish over some cooked brown rice or lovely egg noodles. I paired mine with a crisp escarole and radicchio salad ... and I'll tell you all about that ... tomorrow.

So, have you given a favorite recipe a reduced-fat make-over? Tell me about it in the comments. Fat-phobic Diva wants to know!

Bon appetite!


Michele said...

I don't think that I've given any of my recipes a reduced fat makeover. I have taken to using fat free half and half quite often in recipes and I do my best to reduce the butter, but always leave some in for the flavor. It must be a gratin kind of day. I have a butternut squash and yukon gold gratin in the oven right now. :-)

The Diva on a Diet said...

Oh, Michele, your gratin sounds wonderful ... what time is dinner? LOL

I'll look forward to the recipe, if you're going to post it. :)

Deb said...

I'm so jealous of all you folks with bountiful gardens, no place for one for me - I live in a condo but on the other hand here in Fl fresh produce is pretty well available year round.

I did score some great pickled beets from Sharron's bounty when I was in Ct so it's good to have friends with gardens (or brothers)


I'll have to think about recipe makeovers I've done to answer that question.

Miss Caught Up said...

Hmmm.. I am plotting when I should make this! :) I made the Baked Mustard Pork Cutlets last night! It was good, but I over baked them :( But they were still good! :D I'll have to perfect my baking abilities :)

The Diva on a Diet said...

Deb - you'll have to visit in the summer next time so you can raid bro's garden too! We'd love to see you again. :)

M.C.U. - I can't tell you how happy it makes me that you tried one of my recipes. Thank you! Perhaps your oven runs a bit hot, or maybe your cutlets were thinner than mine ... eh, its a guessing game sometimes. Keep at it! :)