Friday, October 4, 2013

Creamy Chicken Picatta Tortellini with Braised Leeks and Bacon- And three reasons why you won't like this dish



Sometimes not having a plan... can be the best plan of all!

Especially if it involves using ingredients you have on hand, and in ways that you hadn't used them before.

But...

If you don't like rich and creamy comfort food... you're not going to like this dish.
And if you don't like bacon and chicken and braised leeks, oh my... you're not going to like this dish.
And if you don't like dishes that come together in practically no time.  That are cost effective, full of flavor... and have a little spice... you're not going to like this dish.

But I do. Oh yes, I do.  Did I tell you I do? 
Man, oh man, this is one delicious dish.

My first bite, the tang from the cream cheese really hit me as I bit into the herby chicken, making me want to go back for more.  Then the fruity acidity from the lemon blended so beautifully with the cheese filled tortellini.  The next bite offered a braised leek, which gave a deep and mellow onion flavor with a nuttiness from the garlic.  And then another bite of chicken, which was scooped up with some bacon, offering a salty, crunch that perfectly balanced the creaminess of it all.


And the best part?  The heat.  Not an in-you-face kind of heat.  But the kind of heat that offers a ton of flavor.   And doesn't really hit you until you slow down and take a few breaths in between bites.  Which, with this dish, could be awhile.

Want a bit less tang?  Lower the amount of cream cheese, and up the chicken broth... and maybe even add a little white wine. 

Want even more freshness?  Use fresh herbs!  All I had on had was basil, but fresh thyme, or my favorite, tarragon, would be fantastic.

Want it healthier?

Neither would I.

The perfect splurge meal.  The perfect comfort food.

One seriously delicious dish.


Creamy Chicken Picatta Tortellini with Braised Leeks and Bacon

1 package (3 medium) boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes
1 package fresh tortellini, cooked according to package direction and drained
2 leeks, rinsed well, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup chicken broth plus more to cover leeks during braising
3 garlic cloves, skin peeled off
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 lemons
1/4 teaspoon Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning (use more or less depending on how much you like heat!)
Olive oil
Fresh or dried herbs to taste (I use my favorite Parisien from Penzeys).  Fresh basil, thyme or tarragon would also be nice.
Sea salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, add olive oil and the four halves of the leeks, cut side down.  Cook until browned and then remove from pan.  Cut into large chunks and add to an 8x8 pan, this time cut side up.  Add in the whole garlic cloves, salt and pepper, and add enough chicken broth to come up half way on the leeks.  Braise in a 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until tender.  Remove from liquid to a plate, discard garlic (save for something else fabulous!), and set aside.

Back into the skillet add more olive oil as needed, and then the chicken chunks.  Cooked until almost done, and then add in the cream cheese, chicken broth, juice of two lemons, herbs, creole seasoning, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer and thicken, about 5-6 minutes.

Once thickened, add in the cooked tortellini, the leeks, and the crumbled bacon.  Check for seasoning and serve.


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