When December arrived she brought with her Winter in full force. The North wind blew away the late November warmth, which we were enjoying but was quickly becoming mundane, and left us enveloped in iridescent, crystalline snow which swirled and floated magically in the air. We had the distinct impression that we'd somehow been transported into a pristine, Christmas snow globe, and my kids marveled over it all afternoon long. Winter dusted the roads and rooftops in silver, and encased the tree branches in thick sheathes of glassy ice.
When I stepped out for the morning paper the neighborhood glistened like a million diamonds and the sky was a clear, cold blue. Gone were the steely, thick clouds which had suffocated us for the past three days. My breath froze in the crisp air, and I must say this is a welcome change for this time of year.
December truly is a magical month. It's also the month that lends itself best to comfort food. Slow cooked, rich, savory dishes that really don't have a place any other time of the year. It's a month for allowing my oven to warm my kitchen and fill my home with the tantalizing aromas of sage and nutmeg, cinnamon and rosemary. It's a month for kicking up my feet in front of a large window with a bowl of Chicken Divan and a fresh baked biscuit. For eating slow cooked food slowly, while the snow slowly falls and the light slowly fades, and the world - with all its holiday mayhem and outrageous expectations - speeds by without a glance.
adapted from The Joy of Cooking
3 organic broccoli crowns
2-3 large chicken breasts OR 2-3 cups cooked, chopped, leftover chicken (or turkey)
1 tsp dried thyme
4 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour (white or whole wheat)
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups organic whole milk
3 pinches of nutmeg
2 Tbsp white wine
a good squeeze of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 - 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
If you're using fresh chicken, season it well with the thyme and salt and pepper. Cook it until done. (I usually grill it on the indoor grill, however you could cook it on the stove or bake it.) Let the chicken cool and then dice it.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (205 C) and butter a large, shallow baking dish. Cut the broccoli into florets and peel and chop the stem. Steam the broccoli for 5 minutes. Place the broccoli in the baking dish and sprinkle with salt. In a large sauce pan slowly melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly for 3-4 minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock, milk, wine, nutmeg and a little salt and pepper, and bring to a boil whisking constantly. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently so your milk doesn't burn. Add the lemon juice and the chopped chicken and taste for seasoning. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Pour this mixture over the broccoli and top with the Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes until cheese is browned and bubbly.
shared at: family fresh meals, mangia mondays, melt in your mouth monday, monday mania, family time tuesday, tasty tuesday, hearth and soul, real food wednesdays, fight back friday, full plate thursday,