Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Choice: Garlic Chicken Cutlets and Harvest Vegetable Pasta

Since it's been a while, let's recap: Gabby moves in next door to Travis. He's a veterinarian. He helps her dog deliver a litter of puppies. Travis invites Gabby to a get-together with his friends. (Click here to see what they feasted on at the beach.) Later he grills some shrimp kebobs for her. Gabby likes Travis but doesn't want to break up with her boyfriend. Meanwhile she keeps seeing Travis, and one night she decides to cook something for him. She knows that he likes chicken breasts, because he cooks them for himself almost every night. Gabby prepares a simple meal of chicken, pasta, and salad:

She added the pasta to the water with a dash of salt, unwrapped the chicken, and began to saute' it in olive oil, wishing she could have done something a bit fancier. She added a bit of pepper and other seasonings, but by the end, it looked almost as boring as it had before she started. Never mind, it would have to do. (The Choice, p. 169)

I knew exactly what I wanted to cook, something I'd done before: Rachael Ray's Brazilian Chicken Cutlets with Raw Tropical Sauce. I pulled out the recipe, shopped for the ingredients, worked out a way to make my meal gluten free, and got started. In the end, though, I ended up cooking something much simpler, because a). it was the day before Thanksgiving and I already had lots to do, and b). when I started to cut my mango for the raw tropical sauce, I realized it wasn't ripe. I still haven't quite gotten the hang of choosing a mango at the perfect ripeness. Needless to say, there was no raw tropical sauce. (Never mind; it would have to do.)

I did make a nice garlic paste like the recipe says (although, despite my efforts with my mortar and pestle to make it paste-like, it was more like a sauce) and after splitting and pounding the chicken breasts, I marinated the chicken in the garlic paste, dipped them in gluten-free breading, and sauteed them in olive oil. Here's the abbreviated version that I cooked:

• 8 to 10 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• Zest and juice of 1 lemon, divided
• 1/2 cup (a large handful) parsley, chopped
• A few dashes hot sauce

• Make a paste for the cutlets by placing the garlic into a bowl with a small pinch of salt. Using a spoon, mash the salt and garlic together into a paste. Add in the lemon juice, parsley, hot sauce and some freshly ground black pepper, and reserve.

• Flatten the chicken breasts into cutlets by butterflying each piece. Open each breast up and pound them out by placing them into a large zipper bag one at a time with a small amount of water. Seal the bag, squeezing out as much air as you can. Pound the chicken with a small, cast iron skillet until it's evenly thin. As you finish each breast, place them into another large plastic zipper bag or mixing bowl.

• Once all the breasts are pounded out, add the garlic paste to the zipper bag or bowl and toss the chicken around to coat it evenly. Marinate for about 10 minutes.

This is me again: I coated the chicken in gluten free breading, then:

Place a large skillet over medium high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Once hot, cook the cutlets in batches until golden brown on each side and cooked through, 4-5 minutes per side, adding more oil to the pan as needed between batches. As each cutlet finishes cooking, transfer them to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while the others finish.

They weren't as "fancy" as I had planned, but quite good nonetheless, and definitely quicker. I made a mental note to make this again soon and post the entire recipe. (It may be a while. I recently bought a huge jar of mango-peach salsa at Costco to serve with appetizers at Christmas; I'm thinking that it will go very well with these chicken breasts.)

I did manage to make a pretty delicious pasta dish, another recipe I got from Rachael Ray, probably more elaborate than Gabby's:



1 pound whole wheat* penne
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large or 4 small zucchini, chopped into bite-size chunks
1 yellow squash, chopped into bite-size chunks
1 red pepper, chopped into bite-size chunks
1 red onion, chopped into bite-size chunks
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
1/4 cup sliced almonds, blanched and toasted**
1 cup basil
3/4 cup parsley
1/4 cup mint
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1 to 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese

Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring up to a boil to cook the pasta. Once at a boil, add some salt and the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Right before draining, remove and reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain pasta thoroughly, return to the pot and reserve.

While the pasta is cooking, place chopped zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper and onion on baking sheet. Drizzle the vegetables with 3 tablespoons EVOO, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes or until tender and golden brown.
While vegetables are roasting, place the almonds**, herbs, garlic, some salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse the processor while drizzling in the 1/4 cup EVOO. Transfer the pesto to a large mixing bowl and mix in the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Add the cup of reserved pasta-cooking liquid to the bowl and mix it to combine. Add the pasta and the roasted veggies to the bowl and give it a good toss to coat everything with the pesto.

In a small mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese and freshly ground black pepper. Spoon pasta into 6 dishes and top each dish with dollop of the peppery ricotta mixture.

*My family balks at whole wheat pasta. I used regular penne, and gluten free rice penne for myself.

**Moe is allergic to nuts. I left out the almonds.

Gabby makes Travis a nice salad with cheese and croutons. I cut up some gluten-free bread, added olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and roasted them for about 10 minutes. They were great on my tossed salad, especially with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top. Gabby also chooses an Australian Chardonnay to go with the meal. (It must have taken me fifteen minutes of wandering around the wine store looking for Australian Chardonnay. I hoped none of the store employees would come up to me and ask if I needed any help; I knew I would feel silly explaining that I needed an Australian Chardonnay for a meal I was cooking for my blog. Of course, they probably wouldn't have found that silly at all.)


No comments:

Post a Comment