Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Chicken Piccata With Fresh Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Spaghetti

Chicken Piccata, fresh tomato spaghetti, roasted carrots.
Our camera is still broken, so iphone pictures will have to do for now. 

I spent the long weekend visiting friends in NYC for my bachelorette party. This is a particular group of friends--everyone I lived with while studying abroad in London my junior year. All English majors--hard-drinking, foul-mouthed lushes. Even ten years later.
We had a great time, but one particular night felt especially lovely. I was staying with my friend Jessie on E57th, but she's gone out for a date with some dude who was exactly her type (Jewish, single, funny, hairy). So I'd grabbed dinner with my friends Katie and Brian (who met while we were studying abroad) at Patsy's, a place near their building I'd been to, and loved, before. We ordered a family platter of a rich, garlic-studded, tomato-dark, cheesy, spinach-y, penne dish, then went for a walk along the East river.
The food was so good; the company so warm, the city so New York.
Then I left Katie and Brian and went to wait for Jess after her date. I got her a carton of Tasti-D-Lite in anticipation of post-date ice-cream eating and talking, but an hour after settling on her couch with a glass of good wine (she's a pastry chef and her tiny apartment has more wine bottles than square feet) she called me and was like "I'm starving! Let's get food, asap!"
Apparently it was a great date, but they didn't eat! I met her in the lobby of her building and she declared she was craving pasta. We walked a few blocks at one am to an Italian restaurant--there was a piano, the bar was crowded with singing drunks,  the kitchens was open late. Jess ordered bolognese and we shared while she giggled and gave me all the details. Maybe it was my third glass of wine that night, but everything seemed just gorgeous--the french bread and olive oil, the bolognese, the rainy NY night out the window.
It was a lovely weekend, and reminded me how lucky I am to have friends who've known me forever. It also reminded me how great regular Italian food is. There are very few regular Italian restaurants in Denver--only fancy ones. Mores the pity.
So I returned to Denver just wanting to make pasta and classic Italian food. So, tonight: chicken piccata! I made a fresh tomato and roasted red pepper spaghetti to go with, as well as some roasted carrots.
It was lovely: tangy, salty, sweet, garlicky, rich. I used pounded chicken thighs for the piccata and they tasted fantastic.
Roast carrots and piccata sauce

Chicken Piccata 
This recipe makes a lot of sauce--because I think that's the best part. Other piccata recipes have about half this much garlic, capers, wine, lemon. 

4 chicken thigh fillets, pounded flat (How to pound flat: put cutlet in a freezer bag and smash with a frying pan until flat and even) 
Black pepper 
Smoked paprika 
1/4 cup flour 
Olive oil 
3/4 cup white wine 
Juice of 3 lemons 
3 TB capers, chopped 
6 cloves of garlic, chopped 

What to do

After you've pounded the chicken thighs flat, sprinkle them on eat side with salt, pepper, and paprika. Then, dredge each cutlet in flour on both sides. Set aside. 
Chop the capers and garlic. Aim for nearly minced. 
Juice the lemons and get the wine ready (I put these in the same cup). 
Get some oil hot in a frying pan (enough to cover the bottom). When shimmering, add the cutlets, two at a time, giving each enough room so that they don't touch. Cook on each side until golden brown (3-4 min per side, depending on the heat of the oil). Repeat with the remaining cutlets. 
Put the cooked cutlets in a dish to rest while you make the sauce. 
Toss the chopped garlic and capers into the remaining hot oil you cooked the chicken in. Cook for about a minute, then add the wine and lemon juice. Cook for about 3 minutes at a high heat--you want it to boil for a bit to meld the flavors and take the alcohol out of the wine. As you cook, scrape the bottom of the pan to get any leftover burned bits into the sauce. 
Pour over the chicken! Serve with pasta! 

Fresh tomato spaghetti

1 package of spaghetti 
1 carton of grape or cherry tomatoes, chopped 
2 roasted red bell peppers, chopped (I roasted my own but canned works too) 
Salt, pepper, olive oil 

What to do: 
Cook the spaghetti. Just before it's done, add the chopped tomatoes and bell peppers and cook for another minute. Season with salt and pepper and give a light drizzle of olive oil. Serve with parmesan if you want.

Roasted Carrots 

Put carrots into a pan. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and mix around, so each carrot is lightly coated. Roast at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes--the outside should be slightly blistered looking. 
Serve with a drizzle of balsamic, or with nothing. Roasting carrots makes them sweet and creamy and delicious. 

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