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Monday, June 25, 2012

Dubliner Chicken with Pasta, Pancetta and Arugula



            Have you ever bought one of those massive bricks of Dubliner cheese at Costco and then gotten home and thought how on earth can I use all this?  Not that Dubliner isn’t a robust choice: Its flavor has the sharpness of a great aged cheddar, the nuttiness akin to Swiss cheese and the bite of a great piece of Parmesan.  But face it, the block looks like something from one of those government cheese giveaways.  So I was very pleased to come across a recipe which uses Dubliner to great advantage and gives you yet another way to serve that kitchen workhorse: the boneless, skinless chicken breast.

John Lucey, inventor
of Dubliner Cheese 
         In a particular display of Irish logic, the cheese, which is named after the city of Dublin, is made at the other end of the country in County Cork.  Coming from a cooperative of small dairy farmers, it’s sold under the brand name Kerrygold.  And like the butter of the same name, it’s hormone and additive-free.  An Irishman named John Lucey developed the recipe in 1996. Its formula is as secret as the one for Coca Cola.  Lucey’s cheese-making expertise has taken him around the world, most recently to Wisconsin where he is now the Director of the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research.  If eating his cheese accounts for how young he looks, I’d suggest rushing out and buying even more of the stuff.
         This recipe is a very easy one—a one pan wonder—except, of course, for the pasta,  which you cook separately and toss together with the other ingredients before serving.  I chose to use Orecchiette which is one of my great favorites.  But you can use any pasta you have on hand from linguine to fusilli.  The arugula adds a nice peppery flavor, the Dubliner a savory bite and the toasted pine nuts a nice crunch.
Here’s the recipe:
Recipe for Dubliner Chicken with Pasta, Pancetta and Arugula
Serves 2.
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite sized strips
4 oz. pancetta or bacon
2 shallots (about 2 oz) thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 lb. Orechiette pasta noodles
3 cups coarsely chopped arugula
1/2 cups grated Dubliner Cheese
12 thin slices of Dubliner Cheese about 1-½ inches wide.
2 Tablespoons roasted pine nuts
Saute chicken, pancetta or bacon, shallots, and garlic in a skillet for about 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from skillet and keep warm.

Melt butter in same skillet over medium heat. When butter begins to foam, cook 1 minute more until golden brown, being careful not to burn. 
Add chicken mixture, and cooked pasta to skillet; cook until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in arugula, cheese and pine nuts, toss. Garnish each plate with sliced Dubliner. Serve when arugula begins to wilt.