Two Years Ago: Vietnamese Chicken Salad
There's a restaurant overlooking a golf course near my home that has the most amazing sunset views in addition to great food. My favorite dinner there is chicken with smoked gouda sauce, potatoes and green beans. I decided to try to recreate the smoked gouda sauce at home since that's the special part of the meal, and discovered that it's just a basic bechamel (white) sauce with the addition of smoked gouda. The rest of the meal is easy and very adaptable - cook some chicken any way you want, add some vegetables and a starch. For this version I grilled chicken cutlets along with zucchini, red peppers and mushrooms and served pasta on the side tossed with a little of the smoked gouda sauce. The sauce is amazing and would be equally good on fish, pork, vegetables or even eggs. I had some sauce and grilled vegetables left over and am planning to make some pretty darn good omelets this weekend.
Chicken with Smoked Gouda Sauce
4 chicken breast cutlets (or small chicken breasts)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups whole milk
¼ lb (4 ounces) smoked Gouda cheese, coarsely shredded
½ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Grilled, steamed or roasted vegetables
Rice, potatoes or pasta
Season the chicken pieces on both sides with salt and pepper. Grill or pan sauté the chicken until fully cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per side.
While the chicken is cooking, make the smoked Gouda sauce: in a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk over moderately high heat for 30 seconds. Slowly add the milk while whisking constantly to avoid lumps, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue whisking constantly until thickened, 4-5 minutes. Add the cheese, paprika and nutmeg and stir until the cheese is melted. Taste and season with salt and pepper. (If you want a thicker sauce, let it sit off the heat for a minute or two because it thickens as it cools.)
Serve the chicken with vegetables and your choice of starch, spooning the sauce over the chicken (and everything else, if you want.)