This week mascarpone cheese was on sale and I knew that it must come home with me. My mother fostered in me a love very deep for mascarpone whether sweet or savory. It makes the simplest desserts with just some sugar and lemon zest sandwiched with Nilla wafers, or the moist decadent cheese cake.
Enough with the dessert tangent.
I knew that I could purchase a tub and be able to use it for both a main dish and a tempting dessert. So here is how I choose to use my cheese.
Chicken thighs were the meat of choice for my client’s dinner. She really enjoys the flavor of dark meat and I enjoy the forgiveness it has toward me – sometimes I get distracted and a breast may not retain the same level of juiciness or tenderness that thigh meat can.
I decided that I wanted to make a rich and silky chicken with vegetables that could be served alongside or on top of a starch. At first egg noodles crossed my mind but the soft texture would offer no contrast in textural context so I decided on couscous – smaller than rice but same multi piece action.
I went toward flavors my client likes and that I know meld with chicken, fresh rosemary, the trinity of carrots, celery, and onion, and I used red wine to draw out the depth of the meat flavor in the dark meat, and the mascarpone went in at the end to help finish the dish and give it its silky texture.
When it was all done I was proud of my humble dish. It made me think of a simple supper my grandmother might have made in my youth. When Amanda tasted it she remarked that it was great and tasted like the inside of a chicken pot pie – not what I was aiming for but from her it was high praise.
So here is my recipe for today. I call it Rich Chicken, but Amanda calls it Inside Out Chicken Pie
1 Chopped Spanish Onion
1 Carrot Peeled and Diced
1 Stalk of Celery Diced
1 Pepper Diced
5 Cloves of Garlic Minced
1-2 Teaspoon(s) of Fresh Rosemary (depending on your taste preference)
2 Tablespoons Flat Leaf Parsley Chopped
¼ Cup Cubed (small) Pancetta
3 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs (breast meat could be used if you prefer a lighter flavor)
1 cup Mascarpone Cheese
2 tbsp Olive Oil
¾ cup Red Wine
¾ Cup Chicken Stock
Flour to Dredge Chicken
1 pinch of Red and Pepper Flakes
¼ Tsp Sugar
Salt and Pepper to Taste
In a large pan (I prefer a heavy Le Creuset) heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and render for 4-5 minutes till they are browned and crispy. Remove the pancetta from the pan and hold.
Salt and pepper the thigh meat and dredge in flour while the pancetta is rendering. Add the meat to the pan after pancetta removal and brown for a few minutes a side. Move the cooking chicken to the sides of the pan and add the carrots, celery, onion, peppers, and mushrooms to the middle of the pan with a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook two minutes add garlic and rosemary, sauté over medium-low heat for approximately five minutes. Add salt and pepper and mix all together.
Add ¾ cup red wine to pan and stir the bottom of the pan for brow bits. Reduce the wine in half. Add chicken stock, and stir to combine all together. Bring the liquid to a boil and drop heat to a simmer for ten minutes to condense liquid. Stir in 1 cup of mascarpone the parsley, and sugar. Simmer 4-5 minutes.
Season to taste.
Reintroduce the pancetta.
I also know that it reheats well because Amanda ate it for supper last night – that’s always important in today’s world.
PS I even incorporated the marscarpone into my “Blondies” that I made yesterday. So I got to use it for both of my fav ways.