June 01, 2011

Chicken, blue cheese, and rosemary ravioli with balsamic vinegar and pinenuts

In the last ten months, since James was born, I have learned a lot about human curiosity. For the first few months of his life, it was simply: "Who are these people?... Where am I?... What is everything around me?" Now, it is becoming a little more complex: "What happens if I turn on the sink, then sit in it?... Can I stand up by myself and pull my diapers out of the drawer?... What does a lemon taste like?"

James' questioning nature is exhausting. I have to constantly anticipate what he will try to do next ("I wonder if I could pull myself up with one hand, and try to grab Mommy's mug of hot coffee with the other?")
But, I realize that this is the way he will grow and develop.


And, of course, I will relate this lesson to cooking. Where would the culinary arts be, after all, if mankind was not inquisitive by nature? If no one had ever asked: "What if I beat egg whites continuously until they could stand on their own, then gently fold them in with their yolks and bake the whole kaboodle?" the souffle as we know it would not exist. I could get really carried away with this metaphor, but, in the interest of saving time and just getting to the recipe already, I will just say that it was in the spirit of curiosity that I developed this dish.


I had the most beautiful wedge of smoky blue cheese and I couldn't figure out what to do with it, but I knew it had to be something fabulous and unusual. Pasta always seems to be the answer, so I decided on ravioli. The quickly browning rosemary in the fridge furthered my inspiration. I wanted a little extra texture for the ravioli filling without adding any more strong flavors, thus the chicken. 

The tastes were already complex and rich, so a sauce would have been too much. Vinegar seemed the perfect option, and pinenuts for some crunch. Voila: chicken, blue cheese, and rosemary ravioli with balsamic vinegar and pinenuts was created. Whew. 

Chicken, blue cheese, and rosemary ravioli with balsamic vinegar and pinenuts
Makes about 16 raviolis
Chicken (you could also use leftover chicken that you already have)
1 skinless boneless breast
salt and pepper
2 tsp olive oil
Rinse the chicken breast and pat dry with paper towel. Sprinkle pinch of salt (4 turns on salt mill) and pinch of pepper (about 5 or 6 turns on pepper mill) on each side of breast. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan. Cook three minutes on each side (make sure browning occurs on each side), then turn heat down to medium and cover, cooking about 20-25 more minutes, or until a meat thermometer shows middle reaching 165. Remove the chicken from the pan, and shred/chop it into small pieces for the filling. Using a spatula, add the pan drippings to the ravioli filling.
(I cooked two chicken breasts and used about 1 tbsp oil. I saved the other chicken breast and will use it for something else. This gave me more oil and drippings to use for the filling, so I recommend it.)
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (plus sprigs for garnish)
1 cup shredded/chopped chicken
drippings from chicken recipe
32 wonton wrappers
balsamic viegar and pinenuts, for serving
In a bowl, smash the cheese, rosemary, chicken, and chicken drippings together with the back of a fork.
On a dry surface, lay out 16 wonton wrappers. Scoop about one tbsp of the cheese mixture onto the middle of each wrapper. Wet the edges of each wrapper and place another wrapper on top, pressing edges together with your fingers. Try to avoid getting air bubbles in with the filling.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in about four ravioli at a time so that they won't stick to one another while cooking. Let cook about two minutes each, allowing them to rise to the surface of the water. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Serve the ravioli with vinegar for drizzling and pinenuts. Garnish plates with rosemary sprigs. (I served the ravioli with red wine and big piles of steamed asparagus, which I highly recommend.) Enjoy.

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