At’sa Pasta!

M told me Sunday morning I was cooking with chicken again. She liked the fried just fine, but wanted something more delicate and complex, so naturally we opted for fresh pasta, in this case, fettuccine, which is so good tn sucking up and holding flavor.

The difference between any store bought pasta and making your own is like Little League versus MLB – They’re both a lot of fun, but…

First, a couple of nice, chemical-free chicken breasts get trimmed and dropped in a non-reactive container and covered with whole, organic milk. Remember that chicken breasts trimmed and skinned have very little fat. Easily the worst crime I see and taste on a regular basis is dry chicken. Soaking yours in milk for 2 to 6 hours will yield juicy, flavorful bird.

Next, the pasta.

This is an all-purpose flour only recipe that we got from Mario Battali’s book. Truth be told, we prefer 50% semolina, 50% all purpose blends for pasta, but we know not everybody has semolina on hand, so this one’s for y’all. This recipe will yield 4 generous servings; we make it all and freeze half for later.

3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 extra-large eggs (5 large)

Here’s classic pasta prep. Make a big ol’ volcano of your flour, with a nice big Saint Helen’s gap in the middle for the eggs.

In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs until they’re evenly blended.

Pour the eggs into the flour and with a fork, combine the edges of the flour into the eggs. Keep nudging the flour up the edge so you’ve got an even stream being fed into the blend.

When it feels and looks like you’ve done all you can do with the fork, get your hands into the game.
knead by pressing your palms into the dough, give it a little flip and knead again.

You can dd more flour if things are too sticky, and a little ice cold water if it’s too dry, but go easy on the agua.

Knead for 3 or 4 minutes until the dough feels elastic and slightly sticky.

Knead another 3 minutes and flour your board lightly if your dough start to stick to it.

Now, it’s rest time; note that both the knead and the rest are critical for great pasta, so don’t skimp! Wrap your dough in plastic wrap and let it sit for 20 minutes at room temperature. Now, you’re ready to make noodles

There are lots of ways to make noodles. If you don’t have a pasta maker, get a rolling pin and more flour, and roll the dough to your desired thickness. You can cut your noodles with a paring knife and who cares if they don’t look perfect? I’ll guarantee you they’ll eat perfect…

If you pasta at home on a regular basis, you’ll want a machine of some kind to do it with. We have the classic Marcato hand machine with a slew of attachments, so we can do everything from angel hair to lasagna. They last for ever, they’re a joy to use and they make killer pasta. We use a simple pasta drying rack to hang the goods between steps.

Note that M keep the machine and the dough lightly floured throughout – Don’t miss that step!

Onto the chicken et al!

My mind’s eye went straight to citrus and fresh herbs, so off we go to the garden for oregano, as well as garlic chives and cilantro for the salad, of course.

Here’s what I used for the chicken

2 Chicken breasts, skinned, trimmed and soaked in milk
2 lemons, halved
1/2 bulb Shallot
2 – 3 cloves Garlic
1/4 cup Capers
3/4 Cup chopped Tomato
Sprig fresh Oregano
3/4 Cup dry White Wine
Salt and Pepper to taste, (In this case, Alderwood Smoked Salt and Grains of Paradise)
Extra virgin Olive Oil

Cut chicken into medallion size, roughly 1.5″.

Fine dice garlic, dice shallot, rough chop tomatoes, and chiffenade the oregano.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil to a saute pan over medium high heat. When the oils hot, add shallot and tomato and saute for a minute or two.

Add oregano and garlic and saute for a minute longer.

Remove veggies into a bowl, reheat pan and add chicken. Brown over medium heat until cooked through.

Deglaze pan with the white wine, add back veggies, add capers, and squeeze lemons over all.

Saute over medium low heat until reduced by roughly 25%.

Meanwhile, M handles salad, a must-do with this dish; we used straight oil and vinegar for dressing.

Prep pasta water with generous salt and a little olive oil, (You want pasta water to be a bit lighter than sea water, but not much)

Fresh pasta goes very quickly; we’re talking two minutes here, so stay close and test and get it off the heat!

Bring your pasta pan, undrained, to your saute pan as soon as the pasta is done. Carefully ladle past into the saute pan and make sure you get a little pasta water in there too!

Give everything a good blend and allow the pasta to soak up the sauce for a couple minutes, then serve directly.

If you like cheese, go for it; we used a little Romano and Asiago for ours…

M feels plating is important, even at home. She didn’t like my one plate job, she went for the bowl for pasta and plate for salad and bread. Here’s hers versus mine:
The winner?
Why, both of us, of course!

Let me tell you,
It
Was
Incredible!

Even better than it looks!

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