Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Leek, Chicken, Mushroom, and Comte Cheese Bake in Hazelnut Crust with Bacon Topping

I know the title is kind of long but when i make up recipes i don't know what to call it and i just go with "as descriptive as possible."

We have been rotisserie-chicken-obsessed forever with the garlic herb ones from previously known as Henry's but now known as Sprouts because they are super moist and flavorful and, if i don't eat an entire one in a single sitting, they can be used for lots of things.  Some things like a chicken and green onion scramble with hot sauce, or this amazing recipe for dill and yogurt chicken salad (which is fantastic on celery sticks!), or i just make stuff up with it usually, like today.

In our veggie shipment from Farm Fresh To You we got several leeks and i love leeks!  They remind me of fancy french food and they are great in a soup or awesome caramelized with goat cheese etc. I wanted to try something different with them than what i normally do which is saute them up and put them in omelettes or soup or on burgers so i googled leeks and browsed some of the recipes.  There were several variations of a leek and cheese pie but i wanted to make it amazing so i took that idea and another flavor combo of toasted hazelnuts and bacon with leeks and mashed them together in my head.  I came up with the thing below and thankfully i had the foresight to measure and jot down the stuff i put in it:

Leek, Chicken, Mushroom, and Comte Cheese Bake in Hazelnut Crust with Bacon Topping 
Crust -
2 oz hazelnut meal/flour (or food processor 2 oz hazelnuts just enough to make it mealy but not too much to make hazelnut butter.  i got my meal from
1 Tblsp softened butter
couple pinches salt 
Middle -
1 Tblsp butter
2 medium leeks, light green and white parts, sliced in half-moons
5 oz mushrooms, diced/chopped small to medium pieces (there were white button mushrooms on sale so i used those but baby bellas would work too!)
2 Tblsp minced garlic/onion/shallot mix (this is from trader joes and i just had it to use up but just garlic would work well if you don't have this)
a few generous pinches of salt (sorry, i need to work on measuring this)
2 generous pinches of dried herbs de provence (just dried thyme could work also)
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
2 Tblsp half and half or cream or milk
5 oz shredded/chopped cooked chicken
4 oz shredded comte cheese (gruyere or swiss can be subbed in)
2-3 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and dump the crust ingredients into an 8x8 glass baking dish.  Mash it all together with your hands until it is well mixed and just sticks together enough to press it to the bottom only of the dish.  Bake it on the center rack of your oven for about ten minutes or until golden.  Take it out and set aside until you're done making the middle. Leave the oven on. 
For the middle - on medium heat, melt the butter in at least a 10" nonstick pan, i just used an omelette pan.  When it's heated add the leek slices and saute until very tender and starting to brown, stirring often.  The crust will probably be done for a while before the leeks are tender.  Add the salt and the mushrooms and cook a few minutes, until the mushrooms begin to become tender, then add the garlic(/shallot/onion mix).  Cook, stirring occasionally until everything is nice and soft and then stir in the herbs de provence and remove from the heat.  Stir in the chopped chicken and let cool while you mix the cheese base. 
In a medium bowl blend the ricotta cheese, egg, and half and half together until well mixed.  You can toss some freshly ground pepper in here if you want.  Stir in about half of the shredded comte, reserving the other half for later.  Add the somewhat cooled chicken/leek/mushroom mix to the cheese base and stir it all up and then spoon it into your prepared hazelnut crust, patting it down and making it even.  It's going to be thick, not pourable.  You could always add extra eggs for more of a breakfasty bake, if you like.  Once it's spread into the crust, top with remaining comte shreds and if you plan to eat it right away you can sprinkle the bacon on top before you put it in the oven.  I put in on top afterwards because i knew there would be leftovers and i didn't want rubbery bacon should we microwave it so it's up to you. 
Bake on center rack at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese on top is fully melted and browning along the edges.  Wait for it to stop being scalding before you stick your face in it.
I cut it into 9 pieces and figured out the stats for that. Based on my general estimates the entire dish (sans bacon, because ours are 90 cals per thick slice and some people get that skinny bacon that is like 50 cals per slice) is 1935 calories which makes each slice 215 cals.  You can always adjust whatever lightness you want, for instance use reduced fat ricotta instead of the mega-amazing fresh full-fat ricotta that i used, and two egg whites instead of an egg to save a measly 50 cals per entire dish etc, it's a pretty flexible dish.

The crust was more like a toasty, nutty, soft breading than a crunchy one you might expect from a nut crust, fyi.  Comte cheese has a nutty, slightly sweet taste if you haven't had it before.  I got mine at trader joes.  About .3 lbs is enough for the recipe in case where you buy it isn't by the ounce.

The only thing that could have made this dish better was to pair it with a nice white wine!

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