snail roll-ups bento

26 01 2010

i normally stick to a pretty vegetable-based diet with a smattering of fish, but tonight i wanted to cook something special for the boyfriend (no reason, just cause i love him!).  he LOVES meat, so i made a fancy chicken roulade stuffed with spinach and smoked brie, served over mushroom-infused brown rice (recipes below).  and the thought of making two separate dinners, and then bentoing after that, was… less than appealing — so you bet your sweet bippy i’m making an exception to my usual no-meat rule and chowing down on the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

i thought the roulade slices kinda looked like snail shells, so i cut snail heads/necks and antennae out of provolone cheese and added nori mouths, sesame seed eyes, and ketchup cheeks.  in the fruit and veggie side of the box i added some bias-cut baby carrot sticks, pea pods, grape tomatoes, blueberries in a heart-shaped silicone cup (a similar set is available for purchase on j-list), one nice strawberry, few cucumber slices and the cutest tiny clementine, plus a few slices of fish sausage hand cut to look like flower-stars (i know these aren’t fruit or veg, but i thought it needed more color, so just work with me).

the box is accessorized by another of my new laser-cut felt doilies, plus a “light my fire” spork.  here’s a close-up of the snail friends, and then after that the recipes!

chicken roulades

  • 1 bag pre-washed spinach
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 4 tablespoons minced garlic
  • a nice-sized wedge of brie (you won’t use the whole thing, but you’ll get to snack on the leftovers!)
  • salt, pepper, and olive oil
  • plain wooden toothpicks (do not eat!)
  1. chop up the bag of spinach.  in a large sautee pan, heat up about a tablespoon of olive oil.  add about 1/3 of the chopped spinach, sprinkling a little bit of water on top to help it steam.  when it’s wilted, add another 1/3 of the bag.  when that’s wilted, add the final 1/3.  salt and pepper to taste.
  2. while the spinach is cooking, place one of the breasts between two sheets of wax paper on top of a cutting board. pound the crap out of it!  you can use a meat mallet or the flat of your hand, but either way you want to do a downward-and-outward motion, basically displacing the thickest (center) part of the breast outwards to the edge so as to create a cutlet with consistent thickness throughout.  it will NOT be regularly shaped around the outside, but if you have approximately consistent thickness, that’s fine.  repeat this process on the second breast.
  3. spread 1/2 of the minced garlic over each pounded-out breast, and apply salt and pepper fairly liberally.  when the spinach is cooled distribute an even layer over each breast.
  4. look at the breasts:  there should be a wider, rounded-ish end, and a narrower, pointed-ish end.  slice some slices off of your wedge of brie, and line them up starting at the narrower end, leaving at least 1 1/2 to 2″ of the wider end cheese-less.  (you need this margin of cheese-less-ness for the chicken to roll up properly.)  once all your cheese is in, carefully roll up the chicken (starting with the narrower, pointy end), securing the roll with toothpicks once it’s rolled up all the way.
  5. brush a thin coat of olive oil on the outside of the breast, and apply salt and pepper to the outside as well.  bake in a pre-heated 375-degree oven (or toaster) for about 20 minutes (your oven may run differently than mine, so make sure that the juice runs clear when you take out one of the toothpicks and press firmly down on the roll), then re-baste with olive oil and stick the rolls under the broiler so that they brown up a bit.
  6. let them cool for at least 5 minutes, and then slice away for cute spirals!

mushroom-infused rice

  • 1.75 cups of brown rice
  • about 2 cups of sliced mushrooms, any kind you like (i used half baby bella and half white button)
  • a generous pinch of kosher salt, plus cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 “pat” (about 3/4 of a tablespoon) of butter
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 cups of water

this isn’t really a “recipe” per se, as my cuckoo does all the work for me.  i just dump all the ingredients into the rice cooker’s bowl, lock it, and set it on the pressure setting for about 35 minutes.  it came out a little al dente, so i might let it cook 5 minutes longer next time.  you’ll need to experiment with your own rice cooker, but cooking the ingredients under pressure together (no matter how much time your cooker requires) really gets the mushroom flavor into every grain.  yum!