After some of the ethnic and exotic menus we have been doing over the past few weeks, it was nice to come back to some down to earth comfort home cooking. Both of these dishes were simple to prepare and more importantly could be assembled in advance and refrigerated until your ready to cook. That is always helpful during the busy work week when the last thing you feel like doing after work is cooking a meal. Too many times we just pick at left overs or order take out when it is entirely possible to have this ready to go into the oven and a nice hot weekday meal is just a few minutes away.
On first glance I thought this chicken was going to be a slow simmered stew when it reality it is nothing more than oven poached chicken. While the mirepoix added to the pan does add some flavor I have to admit that I found the chicken to be very moist but a bit bland. The entire dish relys on the zesty pesto sauce for its flavor kick. While I didn’t dislike the dish and it did go over well at my house. I really work prefer the chicken to be baked or even grilled for a bit more flavor and texture. The pesto sauce was nice but other than the addition of anchovies and the omission of parmesan cheese, it really is no different from my usual pesto which I always keep on hand anyway. With a few tweaks I am sure I could turn this dish around to be more to my taste, but still, it was a nice weeknight offering.
The potatoes on the other hand were glorious as I knew they would be. I absolutely love potatoes in just about any form and I have to admit that these potatoes weren’t much of a stretch from my moms scalloped potato recipe of my Julia Child standby recipe where cream and half and half are used along with garlic and bay leaf and the entire dish is simmered on the stove until the potatoes are tender, then it is transferred to a casserole and into the oven for its final browning with cheese. I did take the liberty of adding a combination of Emmental and Gruyère to this dish just because I like it and felt that the potatoes were calling out for that last flourish of cheesiness. At any rate, you can put this dish together in the morning or even the night before, cover it and keep it in the refrigerator for dinner when you get home. A bit of time in the oven and heaven awaits on the dinner table. Do give it a try and I encourage you to experiment with the basic dish and add some of your favorite flavors. It is well worth it and so very very easy.