Monday, August 24, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore... or Another Chicken and Random Ingredients Recipe

I try to follow recipes. I do. Really. But these crazy chefs out there really think that I'm going to go out and buy a red onion when I have 37 yellow ones, or spend precious dollars on things like herb garnishes and saffron when really, who cares? Give me meat and potatoes and try not to screw it up, please.

I suppose you can take the girl out of the Midwest...

Anyway, we found ourselves hungry one evening so I decided to go the way I went the night I made chicken scallopini, as in, find whatever you can and put it over chicken.

At this point, I need to recant a few of my statements in the previous chicken scallopini post. My boyfriend has a great selection of food in his pantry. He is an amazing cook. He has perfectly proportional arms that don't drag on the ground. He has lots of important people who want to be his friend.

Now that I'm out of the doghouse, on with the eats.

This picture is s total lie. Some of these things are in this dish, yes, but not all. Those mushrooms on the left there? They went bad. That chicken broth? Didn't use it. There's no onion in this dish either. But I did use: 3 chicken breasts, a 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes, garlic, dry red wine, extra virgin olive oil, pasta, capers, red pepper flakes, and oregano.

Did I tell you I put capers in every dish with chicken and pasta? I meant it.

This is the wine we chose tonight. It's pretty tasty... but can I tell you? We like all wine. Don't believe us if we say we have any idea what we're talking about. This wine is dry. And it's red. And that's all I know.

And how about this guy? Ain't he cute? This is Art's roommate's wine stopper. Art flies the T-6 Texan these days, and there may or may not be a tiny T-6 cork on its way to Southwest Texas. I'm just saying.

So, um, here's a picture of some chicken. I should probably stop drinking wine when I'm taking pictures and cooking.

Drizzle some olive oil in a big pan, wait for it to get hot, and then sear the chicken for about 3 minutes on both sides. Don't worry about it cooking all the way through - that will come later when we mix it with the sauce. Once it's golden on either side, take it out of the pan and set aside.

And here's some garlic. I actually took this picture so you could see how delightful the kitchen looks around dinner time. The sun sets right behind the house and the light is just gorgeous.

Anyway, around 5 gloves. It's an Italian recipe, for Pete's sake.

Once upon a time, I used to refuse to use garlic presses, for two reasons. One, the only one we have in my house was red plastic and just made a pulpy mess, if you could get it to press at all. Two, I consider myself a purist. I like to open wine with wine keys too.

But that was until a gorgeous military man introduced me to this:

My life changed forever.

If there's not enough oil in the pan leftover from the chicken, add a little more. Otherwise, turn the heat to medium and add your garlic and as much red pepper flakes as you would like. I think I put in about a teaspoon, but you could certainly add more if you like. It's ok with me.

And hey! Do you know what you should be adding if you aren't like me and let things go bad in your refrigerator! Mushrooms! You don't have to. But you should.

Don't let the garlic burn, just brown it up enough so that it gets sweetened in the oil.

Are you ready? Are you realllllllly ready? This is where you may fall over dead from the delicious smell of this meal.

Take about a cup of red wine and dump it in to your pan (if it's an open flame, please save your eyebrows and remove it from the stove for a hot minute). Deglazing? Yes, that's what it is called.

Now, there's alcohol cooking off of this at a very rapid rate, so try not to lean over the pan to take a picture while this is happening. It's a little potent.

This doesn't need long at all to cook. Once the wine has a little time to reduce, add the crushed tomatoes. While that's heating, cut up the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add them to the sauce.

We're here:

Oh dear! I almost forgot the capers! Don't you forget the capers. Don't you dare.

I wanted to stop for a second and let you see what I have been seeing every day for the past three weeks. Sunset around this place is so relaxing. Ahhhhh.

Annnnd we're cooking. Taste the sauce, and then add in whatever spices you like. I'm a huge fan of dried oregano, so in when a bunch of that. I added in some dried parsley too, just so I could claim to be cultured and experimental.

If you have fresh basil by any chance, that would be divine in this as well. Don't forget your salt and pepper!

You can serve this over pasta or just on its own. We like carbs around here so I made some spaghetti, but my next venture is to put this on a loaf of bread and have me a sammich. MMMMM.

Enjoy friends!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chicken Scallopini

I haven't done a whole lot of cooking since I've been in Texas. Usually, I take charge of the grocery list and ensure that these boys get some good eats and that I get to play in the kitchen. But Art's been on this health food/tight budget kick, and so... there's some chicken. And more chicken. And pork for a treat. And while I will sing chicken's praises all day long, there's only so much grilled chicken I can think about eating. So, I looked at what we had in the pantry, and this came out. This is NOT your standard chicken scallopini recipe. In fact, I'm only calling it that because I think it might look like it. That is the only reason.

Digging through this bachelor pantry, I found this stuff:

White wine (I used 2007 Barefoot Chardonnay... ain't bad), some lemons, God-forsaken chicken breast (this had rib meat on it... takes two seconds to trim off and it's much cheaper!!), extra virgin olive oil, half and half, garlic (natch), margarine (could also use butter, but for shame), capers, parmesan cheese, and mushrooms. Don't you forget the mushrooms or I will cry.

We're going to bread up the chicken a little, so it's important that they are even thickness. If you have a rolling pin, flat sauce pan, meat tenderizer, etc., use that and pound the heck out of the chicken. Or, if you are in the house of two clueless bachelors, ask them politely to borrow their potato masher.

Get a few tablespoons of oil and a few tablespoons of butter in the pan, and get your pasta water rolling.

After the butter and oil has mixed together, split a few cloves of garlic and pop it in the pan. We'll remove it later.

Salt and pepper the flattened chicken and roll it in some flour. Or, if you have a plastic gallon bag, put some flour in there and shake shake shake. Then put the chicken in the pan. Why I thought you needed a picture of boiling water and not a picture of the last three steps, I'll never know. My shortcomings are many.

Your kitchen should be smelling delicious now. And, if I'm right, around this time you'll have some good looking single men start to gather in the kitchen saying "Looks good." And then they'll drag their knuckles and go back to watching Cash Cab.

... Perhaps that will only happen if you're me.

Anyways, once the chicken is delightfully browned on both sides, remove it from the pan and put it under a foil-tent on a plate. Remove the garlic cloves.

Then, oh baby, this is where the fun starts. There should be lots of brown bits stuck to the bottom of your pan. DON'T DO ANYTHING TO THEM. That's where the magic's at.

Melt a little more butter and throw in a bunch of sliced mushrooms. Try not to eat half the carton as they go in.

Again, that may only happen if you are me. Be grateful you're not me and you can cook your mushrooms in peace.

Once the mushrooms are coated, take about a cup of dry white wine and pour it into the pan, and start to scrape the bits off the bottom. This is called deglazing. I think. Unless the Food Network tells lies, because I obviously do not get my culinary information anywhere else.

Oh good gracious. Oh mercy me. If your kitchen doesn't smell divine right now, I have failed. There is something about the smell of reducing white wine that makes me swoon.

The mushrooms will cook in the wine sauce and reduce quite a bit. Like THIS:

The best part of this dish? It brought this handsome fellow into the kitchen:

Dreamboat, am I right? I can't guarantee he will show up in your kitchen if you make chicken scallopini. But honestly, it's worth trying.

Anyway, back to the food. Reduce the heat to low and pour in just enough half and half to thin out the sauce a little bit. You could also use chicken stock. I wish I did, actually. My GI tract hates half and half.

I promise never to talk about my GI tract on this blog ever again.

No I don't.

I decided to add in some capers, because God wanted me to. Actually, it was just me that wanted to. Because I think that every dish that involves chicken and pasta should have capers in it. I don't want my life to be any other way.

At this point, you could put the pasta and chicken side by side and then spoon the sauce over it. (Did you drain the pasta? Overcooked pasta is gross). But, me being me, I decided to add the pasta to the sauce and toss in the pan.

Oy. The combination of reduced wine and delightful mushrooms and briney capers... mmmm. Is this in any way related to real chicken scallopini? Does anybody know? If this recipe is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy. And don't forget the cheese.