Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Love Me Tender(s)

I haven't used many Whole Foods recipes lately although I still regularly read their emailed newsletters.

You know, I need to be careful when I set myself up to receive an emailed newsletter. I sign up for something and I feel obligated to read it, at least cursorily, before I can delete it.  I am reluctant to stop many of them, even after I go a stretch without seeing anything there I am interested in. I guess I am secretly convinced that next issue will be The One.

What I mean by The One is the issue that will have two or three articles or recipes I will find illuminating, life altering, revelatory and fulfilling. If I unsubscribe I might miss something spectacular and then where would I be?

Yeah. I gotta get out more.

Anyway, the Whole Food featured recipes have tended (for me) to hop erratically around, hitting the way too much trouble (Chilean Chicken Pie), or the way too weird ingredient combination (shrimp watermelon and goat cheese salad) marks as often as not.

Recently however, they featured a budget dinner idea that struck me as something I wanted to try here at home.  Sour Cream Chicken and Mushroom Pasta.  

I already had organic chicken broth, organic sour cream, and some of our well liked No Yolks broad noodles on hand, so only needed to pick up mushrooms and chicken tenders off the list.

I hit Wheatsville to shop for ingredients.  They did not have chicken tenders, but had a package of Grateful Harvest Turkey tenders.  I like cooking with organic turkey, it has great flavor (as opposed to the bizarrely no flavored birds grown in CAFOs).  Turkey tenders it would be. 

I decided to use two cups of mushrooms and I was a bit sloppy with the paprika so I am guessing I ended up with closer to two teaspoons when all was said and stirred in. Perhaps my heat was a bit high, a common failing of electric heat sources as opposed to gas flames, because when I was ready to add the noodles the sauce had boiled down a bit too far. Would this looks-so-easy dish prove to be trickier than I thought?

Naaaah - no worries - a glug or two of chicken broth and a quick reheat brought my dinner entreĆ© back to plating readiness. I served the paprika influenced orange noodles with steamed organic green beans and a few slices of a nice baguette from the Old World Bakery in Kyle.  

There is a word in Italian for that piece of bread you use to sop up the extra sauce.  I can't recall the term at the moment but I know why they have a special word for it.  Using a piece of sturdy bread to make sure none of a delicious sauce is left to waste needlessly away on a plate just makes good plain sense.  It is ever so much more delicate to swirl your bread around and pop it in your mouth than to hold your plate up and lick it clean.  Or so I'm told.....The sour cream tenderloin and mushroom pasta is very delicious. The smokiness of the paprika worked really well with the mushrooms in the sauce, and the turkey tenders cooked through without drying out at all - one complaint I often have with teensy pieces of simmered poultry. 

We each had a generous serving and we still have two servings left that ought to reheat nicely for lunch or another go round at dinnertime. Next time I might bump the mushrooms up to three cups. This sauce cooks just long enough (25 minutes or so) that the mushrooms could stand to have a stronger presence in my thinking. Or you could cook them separately and stir them in so they don't cook down quite so much but that defeats the only-uses-two-pots advantage of this.

I am sure I spent more than $3.17 per serving because I used organics wherever I could. The only ingredients that were not organic were the salt, pepper, and the noodles. Those were at least Kosher - well, two out of three - never seen Kosher pepper have you? I didn't even try to tally up the additional cost per serving for using organic because using organics is not about the math for me. 

Actually, in an ideal world, nothing is about the math for me. I will just go ahead and say it - Math sucks. Yeah. There you go. Math sucks. I said it and I'm glad. Deal with it.

It will be interesting, as this recession processes, to see how rigidly adherent to my "organic options are always better" policy I can be if/when the pennies need to be pinched a little harder. I suppose that would be considered another reason to ease away from so much animal protein in our diets. Meat and seafood are always pricier than their alternatives. Not to mention carbon footprints (although ooops - there - I just did!).

If you are a stroganoff fan, this dish will be right up your alley. As simple as it is, and that is as much why it appeals as anything, you could certainly use it as a starting point and dress it up with the addition of other seasonal ingredients or proteins. You'll want to keep that flour in there to thicken the sauce some way, but otherwise, you could pretty much pull this together 48 different ways, 48 different weeks.

For your convenience, to follow is the recipe off the Whole Foods website:

Sour Cream Chicken And Mushroom Pasta
Serves 4

3/4 pound chicken tenders
1/4 cup all purpose flour 
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter 
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chicken broth 
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 pound dried fettuccine or bowtie pasta 

Put chicken, flour and salt and pepper into a large bowl and toss to combine. Set aside. Melt butter in a skillet with olive oil. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Stir in sour cream, broth, mushrooms and paprika. Cover and simmer on low heat for 25 to 30 minutes. Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Drain well, then transfer to bowls and spoon chicken and its sauce over the top.

Per serving (about 11oz/301g-wt.): 600 calories (220 from fat), 25g total fat, 11g saturated fat, 75mg cholesterol, 990mg sodium, 65g total carbohydrate (4g dietary fiber, 6g sugar), 28g protein


PassivePastry said...

when i first got to my italian study center, we thought we were being punished because they gave us rock hard bread with our food... but soon we learned what it was used for (i can't remember the term either) and we never complained again....
i never left a bit of sauce on my plate- it really is the way to go...
and I left Italy 15 pounds heavier thanks to those evil little tricks. :)

TexasDeb said...

I had to look it up. At least one phrase (and I am not sure this was the one I was thinking of actually) is "SCARPETTA" which refers to the shoe-like shape of the pieces of bread used to sop up sauce.

Yummm sauce with bread. Nothing beats it.

WV: pabitabs, those little flaps of flesh that develop above the hips after eating too much bread with sauce.