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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fridge Clean-Out

Usually, about once a week, I make dinner based on a refrigertor clean-out session. It makes room for stocking up and presents a fun road-block challenge for me.  That was the case yesterday.  I had leftover rotisserie chicken that had to be used, some pencil-thin asparagus, heavy cream, and shallots in the vegetable bin.

I thought an old school Chicken Divan using asparagus instead of broccoli would be cozy fun, but really didn't want to go the 80's cliche' route....toast points, gloppy sauce, and swiss cheese.

So, I came up with a Chicken Divan Tart.

I made a very simple pate' brisse pie dough, pressed it into a removable tart pan, blind baked it for about ten minutes to set, shaved gruyere onto the bottom to melt while still warm,  and allowed it to cool.  While it was baking, I snapped the asparagus at their breaking points, trimmed them uniformally, and grilled them with oilve oil, salt & pepper on a stove-top grill pan until al dente.

I wasn't making quiche, so I needed a good sauce to bind the tart together and give it some depth.  I made a Mornay with roux, heavy cream, chicken stock, gruyere, and Edmund Fallet  green peppercorn dijon mustard.

After shredding the rotisserie chicken, I placed it on the melted gruyere in the pie shell, ladled the mornay sauce over the chicken, arranged the asparagus around the tart, brushed it olive oil, topped it with grated gruyere, and salt & pepper. 

I let it bake for about 30 minutes and allowed it to cool before slicing and served it with  roma tomatoes, fresh avacado, and black olives in a robust vinaigrette.

It was luscious.....and rich.
The buttery flaky pate' brisse melted into the dijon mornay sauce  like a savory mousse-laden gateau, with the dijon adding nice balance to the cream.  Each bite let the chicken wrap around the still crisp asparagus for a seductive mouthfeel.  And for crunch, I gilded the lily with toasted almonds.

The vinaigrette-bathed avacado, tomato, and black olive salad provided the requisite acidic punch to off-set the richness of the tart.  They really played off of each other.

I love raiding the refrigerator, with wonderful ingredients always hiding, lurking, begging to be re-made, re-invented, and cleaned out.

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