Thursday, March 12, 2009

Volcanic pasta

AKA EDF, Day Four. Last week I made Chicken Vesuvio for the first time, after receiving clear instructions from the universe to do so. One day, someone was raving about it on a blog, and I had no idea what they were talking about. So I googled it and thought it sounded kind of interesting, although not necessarily earth-shattering, and that maybe I should get hold of a good recipe and try it out. The next day, I picked up an old issue of Cook’s Illustrated, looking for ideas of what to cook for a company dinner Tuesday night. The second recipe was for Chicken Vesuvio. Okay, message received.

For anyone who doesn’t already know this dish, it is apparently an Italian-American concoction, involving sautéed chicken, potato wedges, and a tasty pan sauce of white wine, lots of garlic, fresh herbs, and lemon juice. We all gave it the thumbs up, and I stashed the leftover chicken and sauce in the fridge for another use.

Flash forward to this week: looking for dinner ideas….How about some pasta? Always a good vehicle for random things in the fridge that might not constitute dinner on their own. Often, in traditional Italian meals, the primo piatto is pasta, dressed with the sauce used to cook the secondo piatto, the meat. I decided to reverse the procedure: I warmed up the Chicken Vesuvio sauce (boosted with some of the cream still lurking in the fridge) and chopped up the leftover chicken. I also chopped up some broccoli, and cooked it quickly in the (salted) pasta water. Cooked some penne al dente and drained it (reserving a cup of the cooking water too); back into the hot pan with some olive oil to keep it from sticking, and a few grinds of black pepper too. Added the cooked broccoli, the chicken, and the sauce, along with more pepper, some grated cheese, a splash of cooking water, and a fresh squeeze of lemon juice.

I’ve been trying to come up with a pasta-chicken-broccoli recipe for years to satisfy my chronic craving for the Bertucci’s version. This, put together entirely by accident, might finally be it.


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