Monday, January 7, 2008

The Princess Chicken

i know what i'm missing -- romance in my life.
it's true.
i have no romance and so i have begun to create it.
how, you may ask? well, since this is a COOKING blog and not a RELATIONSHIP blog, it is through -- you guessed it -- cooking. not eating, per se, but cooking. really immersing myself in the joys of creating meals for us to dine upon, not just eat. delicious, succulent morsels of marvelous culinary wonders that go beyond the day-to-day and transcend necessity. i throw myself into the kitchen with a passion that defies all reason, sometimes, because, as i just mentioned, i have no ROMANCE in my life.
so i am creating it and discovering it in something other than relationships with a hot guy who thinks i'm cute.
i am discovering it within myself.
yes, how incredibly "self-help, i'm okay, you're okay, let's do the tango" of me.
shut up.
it's my blog.
i can philosophize if i want to.
anywho, back to the romance creating of it all, moving beyond what must be to what we merely dream come to life. a meal, cooked this evening from necessity that turned into something so much more, cuz i had just come from a conversation with a friend which served to remind me that i HAVE NO ROMANCE IN MY LIFE.
oh, wait, i said that already.
moving on...
yep, i know.
it can be boring, basic, typical, necessary. it's a meat that you can either destroy by not treating it with the delicate kindness it deserves -- cuz ya got about 20 minutes to get everything on the table or you're gonna look up and realize it's getting SOOOO late and your kids haven't finished their homework and they still need to take their baths and, wait, what about their chores and did you remember to sign the thing about the stuff that has to be to the teacher by the ya know? -- or you can turn into something rather luscious and memorable, elegant even, with just the right love, care and, yep, passion. after all, the elegant side of the spectrum would be coq au vin, which is just an old stewing chicken lovingly braised in good wine forever while the lower end is chicken fingers (cuz, as we all know, chickens have hands) which are breaded pieces of breast meat pounded into submission, fried and dipped in sauce so you really don't pay attention to the taste anyway (or even know it really is chicken). the same chicken covers a lot of faboo and serviceable positions. the more time you have to devote to one, the better your results.
tonight, i did not have time.
i was, however, craving romance.
what to do?
i called ahead and had nicholas take out some chix breast -- boneless, skinless -- from the freezer and defrost it. now, this led to quite the "but i don't LIKE chicken breasts, mom!" back and forth (he loves them, just for the record, but he didn't FEEL like them tonight, therefore he HATED them FOR ALL ETERNITY!!!), but that's really neither here nor there, because we were having chicken breasts, goddammit, and he DAMN WELL BETTER JUST DEAL WITH IT! okay, not like that, actually. i was quite "yes, well, just put the little suckers in the microwave to defrost and we'll talk about it when i get home, 'kay? great." i promise. by the time i got home, brandon was home from his monday night basketball practice, the chicken was defrosted, it was WELL after six o'clock (i really like to get home no later than five-ish if i can help it, but whatever) and i don't like us eating after 7:30, cuz that ees no good for dee chillies or the 45+ body i am whipping into hot girl shape. no'm.
i stood at my chopping block, looking at the rather naked skinless, boneless 1-1/2 pounds worth of chix breast and thought -- for about 2 seconds and it came to me. a chicken pasta dish. but not just "chicken pasta". no, it was more like CHICKEN PASTA sung by marilyn horn and accompanied by yoyo ma.
romance on a plate created out of necessity.
check it:

1 lb pasta -- spaghetti, linguine, penne
1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (organic, preferably)
seasoned salt
freshly ground pepper
italian seasoning
4 tbs. olive oil, separated (2 and 2)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, chopped (whites and greens)
1 cup chopped broccoli
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup GOOD tomato sauce
1/4 cup grated parmagiano reggiano
1/2 cup cubed fresh mozzarella

what to do:
1. prepare your pasta per instructions on the package. drain, reserving about 1/2 cup pasta water. DO NOT RINSE PASTA (trust me). set aside.
2. while the pasta is cooking, cut the chicken breasts into 1 inch cubes. toss with the salt, pepper, thyme, oregano and italian seasoning. heat 2 tbs olive oil over medium high heat and add the garlic cloves. let them just perfume the oil, cook for about 30 seconds (do not let brown) then add the seasoned chicken and brown, lightly, on all sides.
3. make a well in the center of the chicken and add the other 2 tbs of the olive oil. drop in the scallions and broccoli and sautee along with the chicken until bright green and glistening -- still firm.
4. pour in 1/4 cup of the pasta water and let simmer for just 30 seconds. in a bowl, combine the rest of the pasta water, yogurt, tomato sauce, parmegiano reggiano and the mozzarella then add to the pan and stir, coating the chicken and veggies.
5. to the pan, add 1/2 of the pasta and toss with the sauce, heating through and making sure the chicken and veggies combine well with the pasta.
6. serve on separate plates, top with a sprinkling of parmegiano and some cubed mozzarella.
serves 4

yeah, i know, i didn't get specific with the spices. that's because i was tossing in off the top of my head, not measuring. i'll do it again and make sure of proportions for ya, if you REALLY want me to. honest. but here's the report card:

this looked pretty, tasted delicious and expanded horizons. nicholas has already placed the leftovers in a container to take to school tomorrow for lunch. i used high protein pasta, which gave this an even more hearty flavor. it was just the right amount of chicken, veggies and such for a quicky tonight, but the next time i make it, i'll add even more veggies and, perhaps, make it with a meaty white fish. could be on to something. what was also so much fun was the fact that nicholas, who HATES CHICKEN BREASTS FOR ALL ETERNITY!!!, is the one who now MUST HAVE IT FOR LUNCH TOMORROW!!! AHHHHHHH!!!!
i love my kids. they're so, well, kid-like. imagine that.

the romance? well, what started as NECESSITY transcended it. creating something that became more than i had dreamed within the little amount of time i had allotted myself did have the essence of fairytale to it, surely. i was cinderella, but instead of wearing my glass slipper i was holding up a wooden spoon, and instead of princes for wooing were two young princes for nurturing who sat down to the table, smelled the food, took a bite and proclaimed, "what is this magnificent thing?"
chicken with pasta, your majesties.
chicken with pasta.

No comments: