Wednesday, January 8, 2014

RECIPE WEDNESDAY - Bennigan's Chicken Platter

Several years ago when my daughter worked in downtown Peoria, I met her at a local pub for lunch. Bennigans Restaurant. Bennigan's is a quaint 'Irish' pub with really good food. As I peruse the menu on their sight, I see my favorite is no longer offered.

The platter came with 2 chicken breasts on a bed of rice. The plate was rimmed with a ring of broccoli florets on the outside then a ring of grilled shrimp. A velvety smooth tomato- based bechamel sauce. For $8 and change, you could walk out of there with 2 meals from the one platter. My kind of eating out!

I have since created my own version with a little help from the following ingredients:

I used 3 chicken tenders I had left in the freezer, the last of the broccoli head, and a bag of shrimp I needed to use up. The only thing I did not use that I normally would is to saute diced green bell pepper and a small onion or large shallot. Alas, those items are not in my pantry so I made do.

You start by making the bechamel sauce with equal parts of butter and flour ( I used about 2 T. each). If I'd had the bell pepper and onion/ shallot, I would have sauted them in the butter first to translucent before adding the flour. With a nice rue in progress, add the Carnation milk and continue to whisk until smooth. As you're whisking, add 2 T. of Tomato Paste. (The leftover paste will freeze okay if you're going to use it within a month. So you might want to plan a marinara dish for the leftover) I had to add a bit of water to thin it down. Over kill on the butter/ flour I guess.

With the sauce finished, I moved it off the burner and browned off the chicken tenders, then let them simmer covered til they were done through. This creates a nice steam and keeps them moist.

In a small non-stick skillet (my omelet skillet), I melted a Tablespoon of butter then added 8 of the shrimp. (I'll be using the rest of the shrimp over the next couple recipes.) I just moved them around in the butter to coat and warm through as these are pre-cooked tails. Then I added about an 1/8 C. of Velvet White Wine (I love the wines from St. James Winery in St. James MO) This adds a level to the dish you do not want to skip. Trust me.

Since I eat alone most of the time (and for quantity control) I've taken to buying the single cups of Minute Rice. 60 seconds in the microwave and you have your carb. (when I add one cup to a stir-fry, I can usually stretch that cup 2-3 meals) I took the rice out of the micro and steamed the broccoli for 3 min on 70% (I seldom cook anything at 100%)

When all the components are ready, place the rice in the center of the place and spread it out. Put a little sauce on top of the rice (that layering thing) Add your chicken breast/ tender and the shrimp. Add more of the sauce. Ring the platter with the broccoli florets.

Putting this meal together took me about 20 minutes from start to finish and is plenty for a main meal. 

If you are not a tomato person, you could make this a cheese bechamel sauce just as easily. I'd recommend Velveeta but you might want to plan ahead. According to twitter there is a cheeseapocolypse in progress ;-)

I don't have a calorie count. I do know the portion was kept reasonable and I've added a vegetable. The most fat/ calories in this comes from the bechamel. But out of the whole can of milk, you're only using about 1/4 C of the sauce. I think I'm going to use more of it as a pasta sauce with the left-over shrimp.  When you spread the sauce recipe out over 3 or 4 meals, the calories are manageable.

Enjoy the Journey!

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