Thursday, September 16, 2010

Comforting Foods

What makes comfort food a comfort? Is it just a dish that makes the person eating it feel better? Tonight, I comforted my family with Grilled Bruschetta and a damn fine Chicken Marsala. It was so fine that my daughter, who has always declared popcorn chicken to be the only acceptable form of chicken, was eating the grilled chicken and making these sounds of pleasure that are normally reserved for the likes of warm apple turnovers and my decadent dark chocolate frosting. She makes being a picky eater into a sport where she intends to win the gold medal at every meal. I'm not sure what changed her perception. Maybe it was because I allowed her to slice mushrooms with a sharp knife, or cut up cold butter to stir into to the Marsala sauce, or because I handed her a tiny piece of grilled chicken and told her it would taste just like popcorn chicken without the breading (I've tried that fib on more than one occasion, but she would not be convinced). Whatever it was, she began eating the grilled chicken breast as quickly as she could make room in her mouth for another bite. Six years into her life of eating solid foods, I've discovered that salt and pepper seasoned grilled chicken is as comforting to me as any thick stew or creamy pasta dish that she might one day appreciate.
Today, I listened to my daughter's dentist tell me the good news (it's not a cavity) and then the bad news (might need to pull a perfectly good baby molar to make way for a permanent molar which is causing her pain in its current position). With my yin seriously outweighing my yang, imagine my surprise at finding contentment in something someone else was eating. Now THAT is comfort food.

6  Roma tomatoes, diced small
1 1/2 TBSP fresh basil, coarsely chopped
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil (the dark, first-press oil is preferred here)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Pinch of kosher salt
Black pepper to taste
Couple twists of Italian seasoning from a grinder (optional, but recommended if you can find it - it's rosemary, oregano, garlic, onion & tomato)
Demi loaf of crusty Italian bread, sliced into 1/2" slices
Except for the bread, mix together ingredients in a bowl. Leave at room temp for an hour to allow the flavors to marry.
Brush the bread generously with extra virgin olive oil on both sides. Grill the bread until toasted.
Top with a generous scoop of the tomato mixture, eat over your plate, and don't miss a morsel.

4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness
Salt and pepper to season
1/4 cup finely diced onion
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, julienne into thin strips
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons clarified butter, divided *
1 cup dry Marsala wine
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
Extra virgin olive oil
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brush with clarified butter and grill approximately 4 minutes per side or until cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Move chicken to a warm plate. In a skillet add the other half of the clarified butter, onion, prosciutto and mushrooms. Add a little olive oil if you want or need to keep your 'shrooms from sticking. Cook for about  2 minutes, then add the wine and stock, and deglaze the pan. Simmer until Marsala wine and stock is reduced by more than half.
Reduce heat and add cold butter. When butter has melted and sauce is creamy, add grilled chicken to pan and adjust taste for salt and pepper. Serve chicken over hot, buttered egg noodles with mushroom sauce on top.
4 servings

*Over low heat, warm up butter until it melts and separates. Spoon off the milk solids, and divide clarified butter for use. It's the solids that will burn and stick on a grill. Clarified butter keeps chicken looking fabulous.

Be Fearless in the Kitchen!


  1. Kim wrote: Are you kidding me? Now i am going to be expected to make this dish to! This looks amazing *whips out fork* you have some talent girl. Your family is lucky to have you in the kitchen. For me, it's hit or miss! I'll be over for dinner later. No grilled cheese sandwiches please.

  2. You haven't experienced the greatness that grilled cheese can be until you've had one of my sandwiches. They are everything to write home about (when I don't go all ADD doing something else and burn the crap outta one side). A favorite of mine is provolone and havarti grilled cheese.

    As to the recipes I posted, try the bruschetta & pour yourself a nice glass of red. Makes a nice, light lunch, and is plenty good enough all on its own.

  3. You guys are completely screwing with my diet - as long as there are no preservatives in the food...nope not a one to be found...I'm in!(sans wine, unfortuately) Keep the yummy recipes coming because I'm getting really bored with what I'm allowed to have on my diet, and all my old pampered chef recipes involve prepackaged food shortcuts which are now no-no's for me! Love it and you both!!!