I really wanted to try this again, as I remembered liking it before. We wanted to have chicken to serve with the piperade a couple days ago, and we had a pile of rpie avocados from Costco, so it seemed like the time. The recipe is from Alan Hooker’s “Herb Cookery,” a very old cookbook (we’ve had it since the 80s). Not having Alan Hooker’s “herb salt,” I had to make changes, and I think it was not quite as rich/novel a taste as I remember. D also thought it could be more interesting. Here’s what I did, and then what we think might be changed.
Halve and peel one avocado, and slice each half into three parts, laying them out in the bottom of the small Corning individual baking dishes. Cut up two servings-worth of cooked chicken into large (? I used maybe 1/2″) chunks. Make the sauce: Heat 2 Tbsp butter, and add 1 moderate-sized clove of garlic, finely minced, and 1 Tbsp white onion, finely minced, and cook for about 2 minutes, on med or med-low, till the the onion and garlic are cooked but not brown. Add 2 Tbsp flour and cook for a couple of minutes, till the butter is bubbly and frothy, adding 1 Tbsp or so finely chopped parsley somewhere in there. Pour in 1/2 cup cream and 3/4 cup milk [I used whole], and 1/2 tsp salt, and cook as a white sauce, stirring constantly while scraping the bottom of the pan with a fork. [Hooker’s recipe: add to the white sauce 1/4 tsp herb salt, which is garlic salt, onion salt, and dried parsley. There are two more 1/4 tsp salt later.] Add 1/2 Tbsp sherry (I had Harvey’s Bristol Cream in the cupboard so used that) and the chunked chicken, and cook till the chicken is warm. Pour over the sliced avocado, and bake at 400 degrees till the edges of the sauce bubble, and no longer (b/c the avo will taste acidy if baked too long, says Hooker). I was supposed to top (“lightly”) with grated cheddar before baking and I forgot, so I did that after it came out, which I thought would also be interesting. I used the Ivy’s Vintage Cheddar I got from the Bowl today.
What I would change: Less sauce, but only a bit – try for a total of about 1 cup? D says more garlic. Maybe chives?
I cut the small kale leaves from the garden and looked them over, discarding about half a leaf due to small-grey-dot infestation (aphid eggs?). I boiled them 5 minutes in salted water, drained them, and kept warm in melted butter (salted a bit) the few minutes till dinner was ready. I used the cooking water to heat the bowls while the kale was in the butter. I defrosted a couple slices of Acme Italian, which was enough to sop up the sauce at the end.
I went to the cellar and pulled out a Tieffenbrunner Pinot Grigio, but also grabbed a bottle closer in, which I realized quickly was from the “Tester” box, so I brought up both of them. D said sure let’s try the tester. It is from Eric Stauffenegger, which is why we bought it, and a very pale pink, somewhat greyed or made more sophisticated than most pinks, somehow. Anyway, we were not excited about the wine; it had something of a bitterness to it, that is something D dislikes about a lot of whites (fewer than I do). The wine was Chateau du Rouet 2013 Cotes de Provence, and says Esterelle in large type, but Esterelle does not seem to differentiate it, according to D’s look at their website. In any case, a decent choice, but the wine would have been happier with a light fish, we think.