October 21, 2013
Poppy Seed Chicken
Unlike most people I do my spring cleaning in the fall and my pantry restocking in the spring. Since I don't bake holiday cookies, cook holidays meals or host parties, I do not need to order holiday ingredients.
The other day while looking for smoked paprika (I never did find it), I found a bag of poppy seeds I ordered last spring and at this time, I can't even remember if I ordered them for a specific dish or just because I wanted to try cooking with them. I imagine, knowing my mind, I was planning on a sweet or bread. and what I did not expect to find was a savory recipe. It peaked my interest enough to put it on the menu.
Boneless chicken breasts were at an all time low this week, so I stocked up and bought a few pounds. That should get me through the winter and my first official "casserole" of the cooler months was found in the Jan/Feb issue of Cooking Light magazine, which was all about the bird.
I have had luck with their chicken recipes in the past and this one looked relatively easy but a tad bland and was hoping those poppy seeds had magical powers I wasn't aware of.
Low in calories (only 235 a serving) I added broccoli florets and cooked a handful of broad egg noodles.
This dish can be prepared up to the baking part and placed in the freezer for those nights when you are running late and won't have time to prepare dinner from scratch. Simply defrost and bake it off when you get home or better yet if you forget, cover with foil and bake from the frozen state. Just make sure to double the bake time and remove the foil 15 minutes before serving, to brown the topping.
While making this recipe, I realized after my additions it turned out to be a light take on Chicken Divan with poppy seeds. Even with my chicken breast half defrosted (I defrosted it for 6 minutes in the microwave), I had this dish ready for the oven in less than 30 minutes. Been a while since I made a casserole. I like the easy way with them, especially when time is at a minimum and you just want something comforting.
I will bake this when The Nudge walks in the door and when we are ready to eat, it will be ready for us.
Poppy Seed Chicken
Adapted from Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 2013
makes 6 servings
* 1 (1/4") slice pancetta, diced or 3 strips of bacon
* 1/2 cup chopped onion
* 1/4 cup celery, finely diced
* 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
* 2 tablespoons flour
* 1 cup chicken stock
* 1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half
* 2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
* 1/2 ounce grated Fontina
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
* 1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
* 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1 cup breadcrumbs
* 1/4 cup sliced almonds
* 2 tablespoons melted butter
* 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350°.
1. Add pancetta to a heated saucepan. Cook until almost all the fat has rendered. Add onion and celery; cook 6 minutes. Add garlic and flour; cook 2 minutes.
2. Gradually add stock and half-and-half, stirring constantly; bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, and stir in chicken meat, Fontina, chopped fresh parsley, poppy seeds, Worcestershire sauce, salt and black pepper.
3. Scrape the mixture into an 11x7-inch baking dish.
4. Combine breadcrumbs, almonds, and melted butter in a bowl, and sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over top of casserole, and bake for 30 minutes.