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Yet another less than perfect day today.

After a sick day yesterday (I was awake for maybe 6 hours total yesterday), I was awake bright and early today, itching to cook. Instead of working on the pasta at 9:30 like I so wanted to, I instead waited (ticking away the time by sitting on a new purchase for the kitchen. Which, I still haven’t decided whether I want that oil) until 11:30. At that point, I grabbed my laptop, camera, and phone and headed upstairs.

Before I even gathered my ingredients, I cranked switched on a playlist that I’ve devoted to cooking. It’s called “Not My Division” (I don’t believe in giving playlists run-of-the-mill names, but that’s a BBC Sherlock reference for those who are curious), and is strictly classical. The first song that played is known as “La Gazza Ladra” or “The Thieving Magpie” by Gioacchino Rossini. With music in the air, I set about gathering ingredients.

Back: Bag of peppers, white wine vinegar, chicken stock, garlic.
Middle: Linguine
Front: Hunk of parmesan cheese & chicken

Half of the ingredients with the pan I was going to use

Next thing? I washed my hands and got the amount of chicken I would need.

I could have used one and a half of the other, that’s how big those were.

After I’d slaughtered the chicken (with the thought “I should really learn how to cut this…”), I washed my hands and began cutting up the peppers.

The red pepper almost resembles a heart, of course I stopped what I was doing to grab a picture

While I was cutting up the peppers, I had oil heating up in the pan. It was pretty good timing on my part that the oil was shimmering when I’d finished.

The smell of sautéeing peppers is delicious.

When the peppers finished cooking, I removed them and set them aside so I could sear the chicken. 

It wasn’t until I’d turned the chicken that I realised that I hadn’t seasoned it at all. So I grabbed the bottle of “Italian herbs” that is always in the house and sprinkled it on top.

My hand slipped over that piece to the far right. That’s why it looks as it does.

While the chicken was searing, I gathered the next ingredients I would need.

left to right: White wine vinegar (that stuff is awful while it’s cooking), heavy cream, the italian herbs, chicken stock, more cream, and the cheese

Before I added the white wine vinegar and chicken stock to the chicken, I realised that I was missing garlic in the pan and started mincing some.

I could have used a garlic press and what? Not get my hands sticky? No way would I pass up on having garlick-y hands again. Also, this picture is by far my favourite out of all of them.

With the garlic in the pan, smelling more fragrant with each passing moment, I added the chicken stock and white wine vinegar. I would like to take this moment to say that I honestly cannot wait to cook with real white wine. I once read a great philosophy:

Never cook with wine that you won’t drink

I don’t know where I read it, but that has to be one of the best philosophies that I have read. As soon as I’m “of age” I doubt that I’ll be using white wine vinegar any more.

That aside, the chicken after it had braised for a bit:

Smelled… interesting.

When the chicken had braised for nearly an hour, I removed it, set it with the vegetables (on a different plate) and began building the sauce. This proved problematic as I was using such a large pan.

1 pint of cream and 1 cup of chicken stock later…

The pan is so big that a pint of cream and a cup of chicken stock still have the bottom barely covered. It was rather worrisome and I should have used a smaller pan, however, this large pan did come in handy at the end and I would have other problems to worry about anyway…

… Like my sauce separating.

Now, I was once told by chef that you can remedy a separated sauce by adding an egg yolk or two. That’s what I did. I whisked it until it was smooth and then replaced the lid.

I didn’t know, until mum was so kind to inform me (after I was done cooking)- that the steam separates the sauce.

I wish I had known that sooner.

The sauce with the vegetables and chicken

I stirred the sauce before adding the vegetables and chicken back in, and then once again once they were in to coat everything. I also added more chicken stock n hopes that it would help. When it didn’t, I thought adding the parmesan cheese would help.

After I’d grated some cheese into the pan

The only thing the cheese really did was create a delicious aroma (although it did smell pretty good already).

At this point, the sauce was almost done and it had been on the stove for an hour just about. So, I set about getting the pasta cooking.

I took some of The Passionate Culinarian’s advice. Last night before I fell back asleep, I was reading up on some of the blogs that I frequent and how coincidental that he would write about cooking pasta the night before I would be making it. While I took a good portion of his advice (heavily salting the water), I had my own method of knowing whether or not the pasta was cooked: tossing it at the ceiling.

Yes, you heard me correctly.

Just because Mum was sitting in the other room and we were chatting and laughing, that did not stop me from taking some incredibly hot pasta from the pan before straining it and tossing it at the ceiling. The hard bit about doing that is watching out when it finally falls (and luckily it fell right onto the floor after dangling up there for a bit). When the pasta was strained, I took it back over and put it into the sauce pan hoping it would help the sauce’s disposition.

Thankfully it did.

It’s not the best presentation, but it smelled delicious

I was apprehensive about trying it. With a picture like that, you would be too, right? Luckily looks are deceiving and I was right to trust my nose. When I bit into a bit of pasta and peppers, it was perfect. The chicken was perfectly cooked (albeit in funny shapes), juicy and flavourful. Each of the separate components (pasta, chicken and peppers) came together in a brilliant harmony gracing my taste buds. Unlike my favourite (yet incredibly strong and pungent) Pecorino-Romano cheese, the parmesan was subtle, yet not missed. There were perfect undertones of garlic and, though it had reeked when I added it- there was no taste of the white wine vinegar to be had. All in all, the only thing wrong with it was the sauce. But even though it had separated, it was STILL great in both Mum and My opinions.

~Recipe: Chicken Scampi~

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, butterflied and cut into 4ths
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound linguine prepared according to package
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, fresh shredded

Method:

  1. In a pan on the stove, sauté the peppers until fragrant (about 5 minutes).
  2. Remove them from the stove, replacing them with chicken.
  3. Sear chicken on both sides for 2 minutes each. Add 1/4 cup of chicken stock and 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar. Replace lid and let braise for an hour.
  4. After an hour, remove chicken and add 1 cup chicken stock, 1 pint heavy cream, and minced garlic. Do not put the lid back on.
  5. When it has reduced, add the chicken and peppers back in, stirring until combined. Add the last 1/4 cup of stock, letting it simmer for 10 minutes (or until chicken is warmed through)
  6. Add linguine into the pan (if it’s large enough) and stir until combined.
  7. Serve in warmed bowls with a side of garlic bread.
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