Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chicken Caruso

Ah , comfort food! What makes a food comforting, you ask? Well, I think it varies from one person to another, but there are probably some common elements.

Cheese is something that comforts people, I think, especially milder cheeses. They aren't shocking. They're smooth-tasting. Cheese has protein so it makes you feel sated and a little indulgent. When cheese is warm it feels creamy. I think this feeling of smoothness is something common to many forms of comfort.

For many people, carbohydrates are comforting. They're metabolized more easily into sugars than plant foods, and they make you feel satisfied. Pasta is a common comfort food.

Bacon, of course, is deliciously high in fat. It's exactly what our primitive bodies crave, and a ready source of energy.

Many people's comfort foods are things that they ate as children. Maybe it was a special treat; maybe it was a Friday-night staple. But whatever it was, it's all tangled up with memories of being happy, and safe, and satisfied. The food taps into, or fills, a certain emotional need.

I wonder if there's ever been a study done on what qualities foods possess that make people feel comforted?

Anyway, we used to have this all the time at my house, and it falls into my category of comfort foods. It's also pretty easy to make. Go ahead and try it: you won't have regrets! (well, you might, but they won't be about the food)

1/2 chicken breast, cooked, cut into bite sized pieces
1 red pimento (or part of one if it's huge), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 slice of bacon, cut into slices
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons diced onion
30g whole wheat macaroni (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup frozen peas

you'll also need:
pot of salted water
pasta strainer
medium skillet with lid
heat-proof spoon

1. cook the bacon in the skillet over medium heat until it's starting to brown, stirring occasionally. Add the onions and keep cooking until the bacon and onion are done almost to your liking. Reduce the heat to minimum and pile the food in the middle of the skillet to keep it from overcooking.
2. meanwhile, bring the water in the pot to a boil and add the pasta. Cook it until it's al dente.
3. when there's 2 minutes left in the pasta cooking time, add the peas to the boiling water. Add one more minute to the cooking time to make up for the drop in the water's temperature. When the pasta and peas are cooked, drain them.

4. right after you add the peas to the water, add the chicken and pimento to the skillet with the bacon. Stir everything together and spread it out so it starts to heat through.
5. once the pasta and peas are drained, add them to the skillet. Stir to mix, then add cheese and stir again. Cover the skillet with the lid, and let it heat for 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese is completely melted.
6. serve your meal and eat it while it's hot.

I got this recipe from my mother.

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