[[Two hours left for entries… Note from Owen: everything that follows in this post is the responsibility of my brother. You can make all complaints, comments, plaudits etc. to him.]]
The Paper Chef: Chicken Savoy
As you could extrapolate from the title of this dish, my style of cooking tends to be simple and quick. Had I named this recipe “Poulet au citron et pommes de terre enveloppe de chou de Savoie, avec fromage de Gruyere” you would have spent longer reading the name out loud than it actually takes to cook the thing! Well, not quite, but some of you would have had to check the French dictionary for pronunciation and that would definitely have taken longer than the entire cooking time for this dish. In fact, it took longer to stand at the checkout counter to buy the stupid savoy cabbage than it took to cook this. In case you have not yet grasped the point, this dish is quick!
Now some purists, such as my mother and at least one of my brothers, will take issue with my cooking methods here. The rest of us know a good thing when we see it, and we decry them for the food snobs that they are. You see, you are going to cook this entire dish with a microwave. Oh yes, the way real folks cook. None of your Viking range, double-boiler, meat thermometer, Williams-Sonoma nonsense today! This is your home-from-work, TV-to-watch, feet-to-put-up cooking style. So, without further ado, here is the recipe.
4 portions, or enough for two regular people, four diet freaks or 1 person living alone with enough for tonight and some to take to work tomorrow in a plastic container to reheat in the microwave in the staff room for lunch.
1 chicken breast
4 savoy cabbage leaves Nice big ones, but not the very outside ones, because although they are the largest, they are sometimes nasty and scuffed and brown, and you wouldn’t want that. But you knew that, didn’t you?
Half a regular lemon. They donâ€™t have meyer lemons in Alabama; they have Heilig-Meyers Furniture, with a permanent inventory reduction/going out of business sale. I was doing good to get the savoy cabbage!
6 oz. Gruyere cheese
Cream, preferably the good thick stuff that goes straight to your arteries. Don’t worry, most of the calories evaporate when you cook with it. Or maybe that’s wine. Sorry.
Caraway seeds, salt and pepper
Right, here we go…
Chop the chicken breast into small pieces, say half-inch cubes, place in a cheap plastic dish and grate the zest of the half lemon over it. Hint: this is much easier to do if you don’t cut the lemon in half yet â€“ oops, should have told you that earlier. Now cut the lemon in half and squeeze it over the chicken. Only half, remember and don’t forget to pick out the seeds that have fallen in. Now your hands smell nice. Bung the plastic bowl into the microwave and nuke it for about 2 minutes. Remove and stir, then put it back in for 1 or 2 minutes more, depending on how good your oven is.
During this time, instead of just watching the food go round in the microwave oven, peel the potatoes and dice them. Let’s say half-inch cubes for these also. Depending on how fast you are, you should also be able to chop up 4 oz. of the cheese before the oven goes “Ping.” Slice the remaining cheese and set it aside for later.
4 minutes gone. Well, technically it took some time to stir, but de minimis, as the lawyers say.
Take out the chicken and set it aside. Shove the diced potatoes in a microwaveable dish with about a quarter of an inch of water and salt and pepper to taste. Nuke for about 4 minutes also. Meanwhile, pry off about 4 good leaves of the savoy cabbage and wash them.
When the potatoes are done, put the cabbage leaves in and set them going for 2 or 3 minutes. The aim is to get them soft enough to wrap with. Don’t worry about the thick part down the middle. By the time you could get that soft, the rest of the leaf would have shriveled up completely; no good at all.
Instead, after the leaf is soft, just make a little wedge cut either side of the ridge, going up about 3 inches into the leaf, and remove the thick part. You may want to take the leaves out and splash them with a little water part way through if you think they are getting dry.
8 minutes gone
Sprinkle each leaf with caraway. Put a quarter of the diced, cooked potatoes on a leaf, followed by a quarter of the chicken and a quarter of the cheese. Fold the leaf up as shown, rolling as tight as you can.
Place all four cabbage rolls in a microwaveable dish, splash on some cream and use the remaining cheese to make a thin layer on top of everything. Nuke for about 3 or 4 minutes. Enjoy.
12 minutes (20 if you were really, really slow)