Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dinner for one.

Recently, I had a rare night alone, the roommate and the mister were both at work. It was one of those stormy nights, where you really don't want to leave the house, but you really don't want to order pizza. Because, full-disclosure, I'd already had pizza two days in a row. What can I say, sometimes I like to pretend I'm still an undergrad.

On nights such as this, I really just like to turn the music up and cook, then curl up on the couch with the dogs and watch cheesy tv (thanks, CW!). So first I whipped out a batch of one of my favorite sweet treats, Dark Chocolate Bourbon Banana Bread.

During one of my many trips to the fridge, I left the door open longer than necessary, trying to come up with a comfort-food type solution to dinner. There was leftover penne noodles, cream, frozen peas, Redneck bacon (always!) and gorgonzola in the fridge. The universe was basically telling me to make a cream sauce. Even though I love cheese like it's going out of style, I'm not a big cream sauce kinda gal. I make a white sauce once every couple of years.

Did I use a recipe? Hell no. Did it still turn out delicious? Absolutely.

The base to any white sauce, or gravy for that matter, is a roux. Roux is basically a sauce base. It's equal parts flour and fat. Sometimes I use flour and bacon fat, most of the time I use flour and butter. It's easy, and what I usually have on hand. It's just a couple of tablespoons of each, for this recipe, I used 3 tbsp of each. You must, absolutely must, whisk your roux constantly so it doesn't burn. Whisk it for a few minutes, then slowly add half-and-half, heavy whipping cream, regular old milk, whatever you have on hand. Continue to whisk as you add your dairy. I probably used 3/4 of a cup for this. Once it's in, add chopped garlic (about 1 tbsp), salt and pepper to taste and continue to whisk. I also added about 1 tsp of crushed red pepper. You want to bring it to a slow boil so it reduces (thickens) to make a nice, creamy sauce. Once it had thickened (it took about five minutes), I add about a 1/2 cup of crumbled gorgonzola and continued to whisk until it was incorporated.

Allow me to backtrack for a moment, in the same pan I made the roux in, I cooked my bacon. I chopped it up into small pieces and sauteed it until brown, scooped it out and drained it on a paper towel. I added the butter and flour for the roux directly to the same pan (without washing it) for some added flavor.

So, once the sauce had thickened, I reheated the penne and frozen peas in the microwave for about a minute. I then dumped it all in with the sauce, and dumped the bacon back in as well. I mixed it all up with a nice, big wooden spoon and let it cook together for just a few minutes.

I then unceremoniously dumped it all onto a plate, added a few pieces of crusty Le Petite baguette to mop up the sauce, and inhaled every last bite.

Quite tasty, if I do say so myself. So the next time you have no idea what do make for dinner, just look in your fridge and something delicious, just might come to you.

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