25 August 2008

Milk Calendar Mondays: Chicken and Fresh Spinach Tortellini

Dare I say it?

This is the sort of thing the Milk Calendar people should be aiming for when developing and choosing recipes for their calendar.

You read right. Two passing grade recipes in a row. Who'da thunk it?

When you actually read this month's recipe for Chicken and Fresh Spinach Tortellini, you might easily figure out why it works: the dairy component (in this case milk) serves a real purpose. That is the milk is supposed to be there and substituting it for water or stock or wine would probably make the recipe worse.

Milk wasn't used to boil rice. Milk wasn't used as pasta water.

The milk was used for sauce. And not some wretched, bland and pallid imitation of what should have been a bold and flavourful coating. It was a sauce that worked well enough and easily adapted to the cook's preference.

In keeping with the calendar's raison d'être it is an extremely easy recipe. And in keeping with the other recipes, it is designed so as to not offend Canadian's stereotypically timid tastebuds. The "adventurous" additions really aren't that daring: bitter greens (Swiss chard) and bacon (pancetta)--but I'm a half-bacon-fiend who's more than Swiss chard friendly, I went that route.

I made a couple of changes to the recipe--instead of baby spinach, I used grown up spinach (I'm beginning an antipathy for baby veggies--apart from the price, I'm increasingly unconvinced of their flavour) and my dining companion has a citrus allergy, so I didn't use the lemon rind, but to add the teeniest bit of sharpness used a about a quarter tsp of white wine vinegar.

It was a pretty effortless affair and the recipe came together in a rather quick fashion--I think I had dinner on the table within about -45 minutes, from start of prep to dishing out the pasta. To keep it as a one-pot dish, I crisped the bacon in the cooking pot, removed the pieces, but kept the fat in the pot when whisking the flour into Ahe milk. The flavour was pretty good--it would definitely benefit from a bay leaf and the bacon should be manditory--tried it without and it didn't work for me or my friend...and if you aren't making your own stock and like me used an insta-boullion, you may want to keep the bacon fat in the dish because of the lovely all-over depth it added to the dish.


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K and S said...

looks like delicious comfort food!

Mickle in NZ said...

Dearest Jasmine.

I like the "look" of this just from the ingrediants you've discussed.

For those who cannot tolerate citrus (and I can't do grapefruit, anyway any how), threre is a wonderful spice from Mid-Mediterranean/ Mid East named Sumac. It is a berry of a plant that is crushed, and is now available in many places in the world (like New Zealand).

Check it out for a tangy, zingy flavour - and is also a very good meat tenderiser in a marinade or rub.

Huggles, from Michelle and Zeb Cat

Anonymous said...

A good friend of mine develops the recipes for the milk calendar. I'll have to let her know that you liked her tortellini.

Jenny said...

Two in a row is pretty big, isn't it?
Good for you going all out and being brave with the bacon. :-)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Just goes to show that you never know where your next great recipe is coming from. This sounds like one of those dishes that can easily fit into the weekday repertoire.

Deborah said...

Yay! 2 winners in a row! This one sounds very tasty.

Aimée said...

You just have to say bacon and I'm in!

glamah16 said...

I can see why this works. I love spinach, pasta, and cream sauces.