Bad movie tie-in, I know. But the smoke from this one was so caustic that maybe it’s not too far off.
I started with the typical inspiration: The Soup. I’m getting pretty cocky these days with soup, adding and replacing ingredients as I please. It hasn’t ended in disaster so far. This time I took the recipe in the book as just a general outline to follow since I obviously know more than those hacks at the Culinary Institute of America. Sorry, but when you hear the words potato and sour cream what do you think? Chives. It’s not rocket surgery.
So I had a good idea for the soup, but what about the sandwich? We’ve got chicken breast, but how many different kinds of chicken sandwiches can you come up with? Well, I had this recipe from Mario Batali’s cookbook for a whole roast chicken called The Devil’s Chicken (Pollo al Diavolvo). It involved rubbing the almost-cooked chicken down with a paste of dijon mustard and crushed black peppercorns. But the true beauty of this recipe was the “salad” side that he included. It used flat leaf parsley, halved cherry tomatoes, and red onions sliced thin. We’ve made this with lots of different dishes, and even used it in sandwiches before. Karen has added sliced baby cucumbers into the mix somewhere along the way as well. So I took this idea and turned that paste into a marinade for the chicken breast. Way cool, Mark’s the hero.
I’ve said it before. When I’m cooking meat on the stove top I use high heat. I don’t know why, so don’t ask. The end result tends to be smoke. The dinner isn’t always ruined, but sometimes the windows get opened in January. And it’s worse on the second floor. You see, we’ve got this set of stairs from the kitchen to the second floor so all the smoke goes straight up. Add a quarter cup of black pepper to the fog and you’ve got something that’s near impossible to breathe.
The chicken was
scorched past recognition cooked perfectly, and the soup was also a hit. The compliments sounded something like this:
“Good *cough* dinner, hon. I really like *choke* the *cough* chicken. *hack* ”
For the second time
ever in her life in my cooking career, Karen didn’t need to add pepper sauce. A quarter cup of black pepper will do that. I, however, needed a half gallon of milk to make it through the meal. And some eye drops.
Potato & Mushroom Soup
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 potato, diced (about 1 cup)
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/4 cup)
8 oz. sliced mushrooms (I used half shiitake, half cremini)
1 leek, white & light green parts, sliced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 quart chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
Salt, to taste
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the potato and onion and saute until the onion is golden, 5-7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and leek and cook 2-3 more minutes. Add the thyme and chives.
Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Puree the soup with a stick blender or a blender. Stir in the sour cream and the butter. Serve.
The Devil’s Sandwich
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly crushed black peppercorns
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 bunch roughly chopped Italian parsley
1 red onion, thinly sliced
12 cherry tomatoes, sliced into thirds
1 baby cucumber, thinly sliced
Mix together the marinade ingredients in a plastic bag and place the chicken inside. Mix thoroughly to coat, and marinade for at least 2 hours. Combine the parsley, tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers in a bowl. Drizzle in some olive oil and a splash of lemon juice, and toss. Karen says feta cheese works really well in addition.
Cook the chicken in a large skillet until done, turning once during cooking. Cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice the chicken and serve on toasted bread of your choice with the greens.