Thursday, January 1, 2015

Weirdo Pasta

I've had a vision for a style of pasta dish in my head for a very long time, and over the past couple of years, I've occasionally pulled it off. This is definitely not Italian-style pasta (my Sicilian friend Paul saw the ingredient list of one recent effort and asked, with incredulity, "What are you trying to make, soup??"). Don't ask me why, but something deep inside is driving me to make this really weird pasta. And the other night I rang the bell. I have no idea whether this is duplicable, but it worked beautifully for me! Here goes:

In a large skillet, I sautéed four skinless chicken thighs, lightly dusted with smoked paprika, in a little olive oil.

I removed the chicken, wiped away the oil (but not the brown clumps), added some turkey stock, and 2 carrots, sliced. I also added a good amount of marjoram, a TB of olive oil, some black pepper, and a shake of Tabasco. Once it started simmering, I dropped the heat and covered the skillet. Toward the end, I added a handful of fresh cilantro (did you know it's carried at Trader Joe's?).

When the moisture was absorbed and the carrots were soft-to-the-fork (but not super soft), I removed them, added 2 TBS olive oil to the pan, heated it, and added back the carrots, the chicken, and some broccolini (steamed and cut into short pieces) and a handful of baby spinach leaves, as well as four chopped scallions (I was out of onions, or I'd have started all this by sautéing some). I briefly stir fried, then added some previously cooked rigatoni that was chilling in the fridge (to reduce its glycemic index*) along with a couple pinches of chili flakes and some ground Parmesano, stirring very well.

* - I'm not diabetic, but have noticed that athletes and nutritionists have been paying increasing heed to glycemic content.

I removed the skillet's contents before the pasta became fully hot (which would have undone the glycemic reduction), and deglazed the pan with more turkey stock, adding a bay leaf (critical!) and a pinch of salt (I don't cook with much salt; this was the only sodium aside from the Parmesano and whatever was in the stock). I poured the reduced liquid over the pasta, and, as the French say, walla.

Absence of photos confirms the deliciousness.

Note that the carrot cooking technique - with marjoram, cilantro, black pepper, EVOO, and slow moist cooking - diffuses every iota of the usual flavor of cooked carrots, which I hate. Until you've made carrots this way, don't think you can envision the result. These are cooked carrots for haters of cooked carrots, and they're surprisingly versatile.

1 comment:

Jim Leff said...

One interesting result of this recipe is that people will see the references to "glycemic index" and reduced salt, and conclude, with a smirk, that it's a dietetic recipe.

I've been waiting, since the 1980s, for the day to arrive when the mainstream tries to cook healthy food with maximal deliciousness, and delicious food with maximal healthfulness.

For as long as I've been alive, there's been a sharp divide. Deliciousness-oriented cooks start each recipe by melting a stick of butter, and health-oriented cooks holler bloody murder at the mere site of white flour or white sugar. The former are corpulent and gasping, and the latter are severe and sanctimonious.

It doesn't matter which extreme you're oriented to - if you're a reformed stick-of-butter-melter trying to eat healthy while staunchly opposed to sacrificing deliciousness, or a reformed health cultist recognizing that lushly enjoyable food isn't an offense against all that's right and holy.

Yin and yang must reunite, because both extremes are missing something integral. This divide has been screwing up our diets and our attitudes toward food, generally.

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