You know how it goes. You get this idea and it seems really great in your head but then somehow, it turns out oh so terribly wrong in real life. Like wearing toe socks. Or purchasing the slap chop.
I had this vision for a beautiful light cream sauce accented by golden cauliflower florets and crispy browned bits of bacon. It was going to be amazing. The inspiration came from a recipe out of the Company’s Coming Slow Cooker cookbook but I didn’t have any of the ingredients that that recipe called for, so I just made up my own.
That is where everything went wrong.
I rarely make cream sauces. In fact, I never make cream sauces. I can rock an oil based or tomato based pasta sauce like nobody’s business but milk and butter and flour is new territory. So why did I think that this would turn out amazing?
I roasted the cauliflower at 375F for an hour, turning them over after 30 minutes. Before putting them in the oven, I brushed the florets with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and cracked fresh pepper. While the cauliflower was slowly caramelizing, I fried six slices of chopped bacon in a small frying pan and then placed them on a paper towel to soak up the excess fat. In a large non-stick frying pan, I melted 2 tbsp butter over medium heat and a tsp of the left over bacon fat. To this, I added two chopped leeks (thoroughly washed and rinsed) and 2 cloves of garlic diced.
At this point our house smelled divine. All was going well. I added 2 tbsp of all purpose flour and let it brown for a couple of minutes.
That is when I discovered that we had less than a 1/4 cup of milk left. Milk was supposed to be the main liquid in this sauce! The flour, leek and garlic mixture sucked every ounce of milk and left a gooey dough. In a panic I ransacked the pantry for chicken stock. Nothing. In desperation I found a jar of evaporated skim milk but it expired in 2009 (I was going to use it anyways, until I opened it up and realized that it had been rotten for a very long time. Oh my.). So I kept adding cup after cup of water. In response the flour mixture just kept expanding.
At this time the baby was bawling, my hair was frazzled, and my husband was confused. I shouted at him to make me some chicken oxo, thinking he knew how to do that. He didn’t. I added that cup of whatever it was into the mix anyways, along with the cauliflower and bacon.
The sauce never thinned out, it only expanded. Getting bigger and bigger and more gross looking.
It was like this sauce had a mind of its own and was going to reach up and slap me in the face. So I threw some shredded cheese at it and stabbed it with my wooden spoon.
Defeated, I took the sauce off the burner and added it to my pasta. I only had speghettini which was a terrible choice. The sauce was too heavy and thick for such a delicate noodle. It ended up looking like runny scrambled eggs.
Guys, this was the Jabba the Hut of pasta dishes. To dress it up, I garnished it with chopped fresh parlsey. But like putting a french beret on Jabba, no one was fooled. It was still a hot mess with a bit of parsley.
Thank goodness my husband will eat ANYTHING I place in front of him. He even took the left overs to work the next day. Next time, if there is a next time, I will follow a recipe when making a cream sauce.
And on that note, what’s your go-to cream sauce recipe?
I can tell you right now that my mother is going to be annoyed by this post. I can already envision her shaking her head and furling her brow, wondering how anyone can screw up chicken pot pie.
So I’m apologizing to her in advance.
I have been dreaming of chicken pot pie ever since I read this blog post from the Under the High Chair blog, two weeks ago. I’ve been salivating just thinking about the combo of chicken, leek, garlic and lemon topped with a flaky pie crust. Yummm….
I’ve never made chicken pot pie before. I’ve never worked with puff pastry. And I’ve never quite grasped the roux technique (insert mother’s sigh here).
And so this whole meal was a disaster.
I forgot to take the puff pastry dough out of the freezer, so it never thawed properly. I didn’t have an egg for the egg wash, so I used milk instead. Which is okay I guess, but my brush was dirty. So I had to use a combo of my fingers and paper towel to coat the pastry- neither pretty nor elegant. I forgot to buy the wine and tarragon. I somehow managed to spill a bag of sugar all over the floor, and despite sweeping it up, I had sugar stuck to the bottom of my feet. My baby was fussy and gnarly due to having a cold, so I spent a large amount of time attending to her. From start to finish it took more than 3 hours to make this, when it really shouldn’t have taken more than an hour.
By the end, I was exhausted, hungry and had sticky feet.
And to top it all off, the finished product wasn’t as awesome as I was hoping. Because I think I’m smarter than the recipe and don’t measure, there was waaaaay too much lemon and dried thyme. I used the juice of half a lemon which made it too tart and overpowered the other flavours. Also, my casserole dish was too big for the filling and so when I put the pastry over top, it made a large crater and the centre never browned.
And when I went to cut into it, somehow pastry went flying everywhere, hitting my husband. To which he responded “Do you think you’ve made a big enough mess???”
Ugh. And as a write this, the disaster that is my kitchen, begs to be cleaned.
(Sigh) At least the puff pastry leaves turned out nice.
Next time, I’m using a pie plate, will thaw out the pastry, use wine and fresh tarragon and will add a bit of asparagus for colour and flavour. And I will most definitely cut back on the lemon!