This is my entry Battle Fennel and the Royal Foodie Joust hosted by the Left-Over Queen. Inspired Taste won last month creating Guiness Burgers with Butternut Squash Fries making them eligible to pick the ingredients for this month. Delightfully, they chose some of my favorites… fennel, pears and ginger.
Watching the twitter board this morning, I saw a tweet from Chrystal of the Duo Dishes. She was making a tarragon chicken pie for her family while visiting Atlanta. I remember reading one of her posts where she and Amir won a pie contest for that pie, and I asked her how she did it. She gave me a great idea for the chicken left over from Thanksgiving and what I could do for the Royal Foodie Joust this month. Normally I would use fennel and pears in a winter salad, but I wanted to try something different.
Chrystal’s pie pointed me in the pastry direction and a tarte tatin popped into my head. Now that is actually funny and ridiculous because I’ve never even made the normal expected apple tarte tatin. I had to look up the spelling! Up until a year ago I never made my own pie crust, but since Spinach Tiger was born I’ve gotten so comfortable with pie crust or should I say, pâte brisée, that I don’t even use a recipe. Gasp! I know, I’m supposed to measure, but when I’m creating a recipe I get into the right brain “whirlwind” mode and reaching for measuring cups will break the cycle. To the best of my ability, I will remember how I did the flakiest crust of my life, and I’m convinced that it’s a lot more about the “feel” and not the specific directions. Flour and butter are not created equally. Of course you can use your own recipe. And, since this is dish meant to bring new life to “leftovers,” feel free to use a store bought pie crust. (Trader Joe’s makes a good one).
This recipe is a guideline. You might want to use various other ingredients, but i hope it gets you thinking about creative ways to use left overs. I’ve been reading Marcella Hazan’s memoirs, Amarcord, and one of the things I love about the Italians is that they never waste food. They ate nose to tail, and they recreated ways to use leftovers. Bread is never thrown away (it has/had religious symbolism). My mother, who is supposed to be 100% Italian descent, throws more food away than she makes, but not Ms. Spinach Tiger. I will find a way to take a chicken, roast it, make soup stock, and then any number of dishes until the food is gone. It’s a personal challenge to make leftovers taste as good as something one would serve intentionally in a restaurant.
This savory tarte tatin is made with left over roasted chicken, a pear and a bulb of fennel. I used what I had on hand, but would have loved more pears in the dish. I’m trying to discipline myself toward a practicality that most food bloggers (especially me) don’t have, because we will gas up the car to go out and purchase one more pear to make our dish even better.
This is baked upside down, layering in the caramelized pears, fresh ginger, fennel and onion, then the chicken, and then the pâte brisée It’s baked for 40 minutes and then flipped over to reveal a caramelized, savory delicious rustic lunch or dinner.
The onion is the key in bringing the pears and fennel together. The ginger is more of an afterthought, but it adds another layer of flavor. I kept it very simple, merely sauteing chicken in a little butter.
It was delicious and you could repeat this without any meat and it would still be good, perhaps with a bit of crumbled gorgonzola, roquefort or goat cheese. (I’m still a huge blue cheese fan, although we don’t hear enough about this anymore as goat cheese has taken over the food world), but I think it’s time to bring blue back.)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 pears, thinly sliced (feel free to use more)
- 1 bulb fennel (sliced thinly, crosswise)
- 1 medium onion (sliced thinly)
- 1 teaspoon ginger (freshly grated)
- 2 cups roasted chicken (diced)
1 pie crust (pâte brisée)
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 8 tablespoons butter
- 3-5 tablespoons ice water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Mix with pastry blender or food processor until butter is like peas. Don’t over mix. Add in water, and gently pat together. Wrap in plastic in disc shape for a minimum of 30 minutes. Don’t skip resting part.
Take out, flour surface and rolling pin and roll into a round disc, enough to cover pan.
You may have some left over.
- Put onion and butter in cold pan. When onion is softened, add fennel, cook for about 5 minutes, add pears. Continue cooking until all is softened. Grate fresh ginger over the mixture. Cool to room temperature.
Cook another pear separately (will be used to line bottom of pan, so cut uniformly and thinly. Saute chicken with 1 tablespoon of butter (more or less).
- Arrange pears in circular fashion at bottom of buttered pie dish or cast iron pan. Top with remaining mixture. The decorative part will use about 1 pear. Add chicken. Top with pastry crust. Fold inside around the mixture. Brush with egg wash, poke holes for steaming. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning over. 5 Star Foodie is having a challenge to showcase how to use Thanksgiving leftovers. This will also be my submission. I used chicken that was left over, but turkey would also work well.