Rene Comet / USA WEEKEND. Food styling by Lisa Cherkasky.
It's 6 p.m., hunger has taken over, everybody's cranky, and there are only odds and ends in the refrigerator. Enter Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of public radio's The Splendid Table, and her culinary supper game, Stump the Cook.
How It Works: You tell us about five ingredients in your refrigerator, and Lynne has to come up with a dish you could make with them. In her dish, Lynne also gets to use salt, pepper, one type of fat and three additional ingredients the challenger also has on hand.
The Player: Tricia Michaelis lives in Dickinson, North Dakota. "We are in the middle of a move, and I am trying to use up everything in the fridge. We are scraping the bottom of the barrel." Asparagus + lemon + boneless chicken breasts + carrots + raspberry preserves
Lynne's Idea: Spicy carrot-stuffed chicken bundles with raspberry-white wine sauce. (She added chile powder, fresh rosemary and white wine.)
Chicken breasts: Place four chicken breasts in a large, heavy-duty, sealable plastic bag and combine with 3 tablespoons coarse salt, 3 tablespoons brown sugar and enough cold water to cover. Mix around to dissolve salt and sugar and refrigerate no more than 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Pull chicken out of brine, rinse and pat dry.
Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board and, with a sharp knife, cut them nearly in half, slicing them parallel to the counter -- essentially opening them up like a book. You are making them thinner and larger so you can roll them up.
Carrots: Coarsely shred two carrots with a box grater. Sauté the carrots and 2 teaspoons chile powder with salt and pepper in 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat. Cook until the carrots are just tender. Add 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary and the zest of half of a lemon. Set aside to cool.
Asparagus: Trim the tough ends off one bunch of asparagus. On a foil-lined baking sheet, roll the asparagus in 2 tablespoons melted butter and salt and pepper. Broil until tender and slightly browned.
Assemble: Place the carrot mixture on one half of each piece of chicken breast and fold the other half over the top. Continue with each piece of chicken.
Place stuffed chicken bundles in a shallow pan about 2 inches apart, and slow roast at 300 degrees, basting occasionally with a spoonful of white wine until they are tender and juicy. The internal temperature should measure 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer when it is inserted into the meat, not the stuffing. Remove chicken from the pan.
Place the pan with the juices from the cooked chicken over two burners set on medium-low heat. Add a half-cup of white wine and gently bubble, scraping up any cooked bits from the pan. When slightly thickened, stir in 1 tablespoon butter, more chile powder and 1 tablespoon raspberry preserves. Continue to simmer until flavors are combined and sauce is thickened. Taste for seasoning.
To serve, place a bundle of asparagus on one side of the plate and a piece of chicken on the other. Pour the pan sauce down the middle and garnish lightly with more fresh minced rosemary.
Tricia's Response: "My husband will love it. Who knew I could combine those ingredients? I'm making it in our new kitchen."
This Stump the Cook was produced in collaboration with the newspaper magazine USA Weekend.