Chicken & Grits à la Carbonara

How are you guys doing? Really. Things have changed a lot in ten days here in Atlanta, but for some all of this has been going on for months. I hope everyone out there is healthy, and in a good mood– and I think I can help with that last part.

The stores around here are finally starting to look normal again, but all the long lines and empty shelves really got me thinking about all the food that ends up wasted– and what it could mean if there were no way to replace it. You can call this one the leftover challenge– but instead of re-using yesterday’s meal, I did a sweep to see what got left behind– a bit of onion, some bacon (not enough to be “useful”, right?), chicken stock, and leftover sauce. Right now, you might have to weigh every meal against what it will do to your reserves, so I’m trying to keep it simple.

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You’re gonna make all this in two pans– and use the fond at each step to layer flavors the lazy way. Start with the bacon in a cold pan, and render out the fat until it’s crispy. Save the bacon bits for later, then toss in some onions, and mushrooms, and let them caramelize. Once you set them aside, sear off the chicken, and finish it in the oven. After all that work, your pan will look like this. Beautiful.

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Deglaze that with the peas, and add back the mushrooms, onions, and bacon. I added that little bit of leftover gremolata to it, and a bit of vinegar– otherwise, just season to taste.

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*Cue final boss battle music*

Now for the grits. Not all grits are the same– I usually go for the instant kind–which are really finely ground and cook, well…instantly. Those were sold out though, so I had to get the vaguely labeled “quick” grits. They need at least ten minutes to cook, and a lot of seasoning otherwise they feel, and taste like sawdust. You’re used to making grits with water, right? Not today! Use that leftover stock– and mine was good. Not on the same level as the ramen, but with some of the same energy. Just swap out the kombu, ginger, and miso for more mediterranean herbs like rosemary, oregano, and thyme. Season the grits well, then add some butter and grated cheese if you want.

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Of course, this is the leftover challenge– so if you don’t have grits, and want to use pasta, mashed potatoes, or even bread, go for it!

So now, the kitchen smells awesome, the plate looks awesome, and you gave yourself a break from the news–which is also awesome. Plate everything up, and live it up in your socially distant, insulated bubble. Stay healthy, and check on the people around you!

Let’s cook.

You’ll need:

3-4 Chicken Thighs

1/2 Cup Bacon, minced

3 Cups Corn Grits

1/2 Onion

3 Cups Peas

1 1/2 Cup Chicken Stock

1 Cup Mushrooms, diced

3 Cloves of Garlic, minced

2 Tbs Gremolata Sauce

2 Tbs Butter

1 Tbs Olive Oil

1 Tsp Dried Thyme/Rosemary

1 Tsp Garlic Powder

1 Tsp Vinegar

Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. Add minced bacon to a cold pan, and slowly raise the heat to medium-high. Once crispy, remove from the pan and keep for later. Sauté mushrooms, garlic, and onion in the same pan, then set aside.
  2. Season the chicken with salt, and garlic powder, then sear on both sides in the same pan. Transfer to a 425 degree oven, and roast until fully cooked. Remove from the oven, and let the chicken cool.
  3. Add peas, and gremolata to the hot pan, and stir to deglaze. Add vinegar, and season to taste. Add the mushrooms, onions, and bacon back to the pan, and keep warm.
  4. Brown the butter in a small pot, and stir in the grits. Season generously, then cover with stock, and bring to a low boil. Once they soften, add cheese and taste for seasoning.
  5. Plate and serve.

Done.

 

 

 

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