creamed chicken: crisis relief

     Imagine this scenario: You rush in from work or carpool. Your coffee spilled on the car's upholstery, traffic was horrendous, the kids are disagreeing loudly, your spouse is due any minute... and will be ravenous. What can you do, besides pack a bag and slip unnoticed out the back door?
     Never fear. It's your favorite super hero, The Food Maven to the rescue... Now, where did I put that cape? Anyway, take a deep breath. Follow these simple steps and everything will be fine.
     Go to my recipe for Sauce Veloute found at the bottom of the post entitled Bechamel Mucho. Remember class, veloute is a fancy French name for gravy.
     Combine 1 recipe of the veloute and 3 cups cooked, chopped chicken or other poultry. (This is a perfect use for leftover Thanksgiving goodies.) Heat the two together, taste for seasoning and serve over egg noodles, toast, rice or biscuits... or even leftover stuffing.
     Now, wasn't that effortless? Wait, what? It's too simple? Okay, here are variations on the theme:
     To make creamy chicken divan, add blanched fresh or thawed frozen broccoli to the mixture. Heat through and serve with healthy brown rice. Sprinkle a few toasted, slivered almonds over it, just before you set it in front of an astonished spouse. Pause with hands on hips, back straight, chin out, in your best superhero pose;)
     For a twist on a down-home fave, add cooked vegetables such as peas, carrots, celery and onion. It then resembles chicken pot pie, without the pie. Serve over hot, flaky biscuits.
     You can also make this more a little more fancy and grown-up. Suppose a couple of unexpected guests drop conveniently by at dinnertime. Add a splash of dry white wine. Then stir in sauteed shallots, mushrooms and fresh herbs, such as thyme or sage leaves.
     Bake some frozen puff pastry cups, pull out the center and fill them with the fancified creamed chicken, replacing the little pastry cap as a garnish. Serve with a dollop of whole berry cranberry sauce on the side and a nice green vegetable.
     When they ask, be sure to tell your awestruck guests, in a slightly snooty tone, that the dish is called Poulet Veloute [poo-lay vel-oo-tay.] Crisis averted. The world is safe once more.