We have had fantastic fun this year cooking new dishes with some great products. We have also spent a lot of time trying to reduce our food waste by making sure that we have some plans (at least some idea) what we might do with any left overs from a cook. Taking this one stage further we have used one of the food ideas that the Italians are famed for. They often simply cook some extra food to make sure they have leftovers to use for another dish. They call these ‘Avanzi’ – which although it translates as ‘leftover’ sounds so much more affirmative!!
Here is the perfect example of a dish which you can really only make with ‘Avanzi’ – in this case cooked turkey breast (though chicken or other white meats would work just as well) with chestnuts. They just require the planning to make sure plenty is cooking in advance to make sure there is enough ready for this second dish!
This particular recipe is a reworking of a Jamie Oliver recipe for leftover leek and turkey pie. We have kept the leek and turkey elements but substituted pasta and a sumptuous crispy cheesy topping for the pastry. This therefore gives you a silky rich leek sauce with generous chunks of turkey and chestnuts with go to form the basis of a ‘pasta bake’. Rather than doing the pasta in layers as in a lasagna, it is just stirred through the sauce before topping the dish off with cheese and breadcrumbs. Other than cooking the pasta (which is best done on a conventional hob) this dish can be cooked in the BGE or a domestic oven. I favour the BGE for the hint of smoke it offers the dish. The BGE also retains the moisture so much more than a domestic oven which I think works well for this dish.
The first thing to do was to cook and chill around 130g of pasta, the recipe works well with penne or fusilli, but any short pasta will work. The pasta is cooked ‘al dente’ then chilled as the final part of the cooking will occur in the sauce.
Traditionally the leek sauce would be started off by frying some pancetta/lardons in a pan and then adding the leeks. In the spirit of ‘Avanzi’ we used some sausage meat we had in the fridge after making stuffing balls to have with the turkey the day before – but equally some of those stuffing balls broken up would have done just as well. The first stage was cooked over direct heat. Once in the pan and coloured, 500g of chopped leeks were added with some thyme leaves (fresh or dried will work) and some olive oil. These were sautéed at a medium heat for a few minutes. The heat was then turned down by adding the platesetter and converting to indirect cooking. The leek mix was seasoned and covered to cook for around 30 minutes. We checked and stirred the dish every 5-10 mins to make sure nothing was sticking or taking on too much colour.
This whole process reduces the bulk of the leeks by about two thirds. At this point we added the turkey torn into chunks, and some cooked chestnuts left over from the roast turkey dish the night before (fresh vac-pac chestnuts would be fine too if you have no left overs). As the turkey and chestnuts were warmed through in the sauté pan, a tablespoon of cornflour was stirred into some cold turkey stock. (This was made from the bones of the turkey on this occasion but a stock cube or a ‘stock pot’ would work). The stock/cornflour mix was then stirred into the pan and was kept gently moving until it began to thicken at which point the nearly cooked chilled pasta was added to the mix.
It is important to make sure it is all well covered in the sauce. You may need to add a little more stock if there is not enough sauce to go round all the pasta. Everything should be coated coated with the sauce, but it is just as important that everything it is not immersed by the sauce!
And now the work is nearly done! The temperature of the BGE was brought up to around 170C. The mix was put into an ovenproof roasting dish. Some breadcrumbs were added, followed immediately by the torn or sliced mozzarella. Then for a crispy top, more breadcrumbs and the parmesan.
Finishing took around 30mins until the core temp came to around 85-90C and the top was nicely coloured. Sometimes getting a nicely coloured top in the EGG is a little difficult. If this is the case don’t despair! Two minutes under a domestic grill (or in a pizza oven if you have one to hand) will sort that out very easily!!
Allow to cool for 10 mins ……………..
……………perfect with a fresh salad!!
Chicken, chestnut, leek, and pasta 'al forno'
- 130g pasta eg penne or fusilli
- Pancetta or sausage meat - around 50-150g
- 500g of chopped leeks
- Thyme leaves (fresh or dried will work)
- Olive oil
- Cooked chestnuts 100-150g (or what ever you have to hand
- 1 tsp cornflour
- Chicken/turkey stock 150-300ml
- Some chopped cooked chicken or turkey meat (a couple of handfuls 150-175g)
- 100-125g torn or sliced mozzarella
- Parmesan for top
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Step 1 Cook then immediatly chill in cold water around 130g of pasta. The pasta should be cooked ‘al dente’. The final part of the cooking will occur in the sauce.
- Step 2 Fry off the panceta/lardons or sausage meat in a pan. This should be done over direct heat – a shallow casserole or the Tefal Ingenio sauté pans work really well as you can keep the lid closed except when stiring. Once in the pan and coloured, add 500g of chopped leeks with some thyme leaves and some olive oil. Sauté at a medium heat for a few minutes. Add the platesetter to convert to indirect heat and drop the temperature (to around 120C). Season and cook for around 30 minutes. We checked and stirred the dish every 5-10 mins to make sure nothing was sticking or taking on too much colour. If colouring reduce the temp a little more and cover with aluminium foil.
- Step 3 Once the bulk of the leeks is reduced to around 2/3rds add the
- Step 4 chicken/turkey, torn into chunks and the cooked chestnuts and warm through in the sauté pan.
- Step 5 Add a tablespoon of cornflour to some of the cold stock. then stir into the pan until it begins to thicken
- Step 6 At this point add the chilled pasta and stir into the mix. Make sure the pasta is well covered in the sauce. If necessary add a little more stock. It is important that everything is coated with the sauce, but not immersed by it.
- Step 7 Bring the BGE up to around 170C. Add the mix to an ovenproof roasting dish. Sprinkle the surface with some breadcrumbs, followed immediately by the mozzarella. For a crispy top, add more breadcrumbs and the parmesan.
- Step 8 Finish by baking in the EGG for around 30mins until the core temp is in the region of 85-90C and the top nicely coloured. Sometimes getting a nicely coloured top in the EGG is a little difficult. If this is the case finish under a domestic grill (or in a pizza oven) – don’t let the top burn!
- Step 9 Allow to cool for 10 mins and serve