Enough with the gluten-free cupcake reviews! Clifford Wright says about this recipe, Chicken in Jalapeno Cream Sauce, in his brand-new cookbook, Hot & Cheesy, that it's a beauty to behold, and I have to agree. In fact it's so good, I can't think of any way to make it better, and once you try it, you'll probably be wondering (like I was) how soon you can make it again.I was worried about the "heat" when I saw the ingredients list. You seed and chop 8 jalapenos and process them in a blender with 1/2 cup whole milk.Then you melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of flour (I used Bob's Red Mill's gluten-free all-purpose flour mix with great success) and cook, stirring, for about a minute to make a roux. Add the blended chile mixture and stir until smooth. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add 1 cup of Mexican crema or heavy cream, and stir until the sauce begins to bubble, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and add a teaspoon of salt. By this time the heat has really cooled down. The sauce can be refrigerated at this point for up to a day.It's a funny thing, but I'm not a huge fan of skinless, boneless chicken. That's what you use here though -- you melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add 2 pounds of boneless breast halves and brown for about 4 minutes on each side.The browned breasts go into a buttered 12 x 9-inch baking casserole, although come to think of it, I probably forgot to grease the pan.The gorgeous green sauce goes on top.And because this book is called Hot & Cheesy, you top everyhing with 1 1/2 cups (about 5 ounces) greated Monterey Jack cheese.Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes and serve hot with some warm corn tortillas (it's also good with rice). And don't worry about the spice because it totally mellows by the time the cheese melts in and everything is done.
You've probably noticed me talking about the newest book by Clifford Wright, Hot & Cheesy. A word of warning -- it's going to keep happening. It's just one of those books you can't get enough of once you try it. Case in point, these bacon-cheddar-stuffed hash browns. Mind you, this is anything but health food, but it's heart-warming comfort food at its best.If you try the recipe, my first word of advice is use a really non-stick pan because if the cheese drips through, it acts a little like glue in a hot pan. My Calphalon Unison griddle did the trick.My other bit of advice is to be patient. At first the cooking time sounded a little long to me, but following the directions paid off.Another warning -- the recipe serves four people, but you're going to want to eat more than your fair share. There will be no leftovers.And of course, what better way to top off this work of crispy, potatoe-y, cheesy, bacon-y perfection than a fried egg? Happy Breakfast.Cheese- and Bacon-Stuffed Hash BrownsMakes 4 servingsFrom Hot & Cheesy by Clifford Wright6 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch piecesPork lard or unsalted butter, if needed2 Yukon Gold or russet potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeledSalt to taste6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded1. In a large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until crisp and a few tablespoons of fat are in the skillet. If there isn't enough fat, add a couple tablespoons of lard or butter to the skillet. Remove the bacon.2. Increase the heat to medium. Using the large holes of grater, grate 1 of the potatoes directly into the skillet. Flatten and spread out until 9 inches in diameter with a spatula and season with salt. (Actually, this is a pretty salty dish so be careful. A little pepper was nice when I made it a second time.) Sprinkle the bacon over the potato. Cover with the cheese. (The second time I made this, I skipped the cheddar and grated some Parmesan on top instead, maybe just an ounce or so, and it was amazing.) Grate the remaining potato onto a plate and then sprinkle it over the cheese in the skillet, covering all the cheese. Tamp down the edges with a spatula and cook until golden brown and crispy on the bottom, about 15 minutes. Turn with a wide spatula. Don't worry if it breaks. (I slide mine onto a plate and then flipped it back into the pan because I was worried.) Cook the other side until golden, about 10 minutes. Serve hot. (Not surprising, this gets even tastier after it's cooled for 10 minutes or so and the cheese congeals a bit.)
Note: This drawing is now closed. Have you ever been cooking something and wondered if it would turn out at all? I mean when the technique seems so foreign, you're reaching for the phone to dial up the local Chinese restaurant for a delivery before you've even taste tested it? That was me over the weekend, testing out a recipe from the brand-new (not quite in stores yet) Hot & Cheesy by Clifford Wright. I don't know why I doubted Cliff; recipes from his other books have always impressed me. For one thing, I rarely cook pork loin. For another, there are a lot of leeks in this recipe. And I never cook carrots.You might be wondering what's "cheesy" about this dish. It's chevre, blended in towards the end of the cooking. That's when the flavors go from mysterious to yum. It may not be the prettiest thing I've ever served for dinner, but it's rich, almost tangy, and perfect for the kind of cold weather we've been having. Totally recommended. The next thing I made from this book was even better (hint, bacon and potatoes), so look out for another post about the new book soon. And if you're still reading and live in the United States or Canada, post a comment below if you'd like to be entered into a drawing for a copy of Hot & Cheesy. I'll close the drawing on Monday, January 23.