Thursday, January 4, 2024

Weekly Cooking Report January 4: Lemon Capellini

This week marks the 13th year since I started cooking as a real hobby rather than just as a way to prepare sustenance, and obviously I've enjoyed it or I wouldn't have stuck with it. It's also helped my marriage and impressed my friends. I cannot stress enough the advantages of the usual non-cooking spouse in a relationship (usually, but not always, the man) to take on the task of cooking once a week. 

To that end one of my weekly goals for the year is to highlight some simple dinner layouts that I firmly believe anyone can make quickly and easily. This year's new year's day recipe was Lemon Capellini, serve with garlic chicken breasts and a side salad with balsamic vinaigrette. In Garten's recipe for the pasta is linked here. ]

As you can see, this is literally make pasta and drop it in half a pound of melted butter into which you have juiced and zested 2 lemons. That's it. Now, this leaves you with a pasta dish that is super light, lemony, and rich, so much so that it's almost a dessert. You need something to go with it that's more savory. That's the chicken and the salad.

Grocery Run: First - check and see if you have any of this, you probably do. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper; 1 pound angel hair pasta; 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter; 2 large lemons; a 1 pound package of chicken cutlets (if you're just starting let the butcher do the work!); olive oil; jar of diced or minced garlic; bottle balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing, some sort of leafy green and other salad fixings (or buy a bag, no one will complain!)

Prep: Get water on to boil in a saucepan, get two skillets (one for the butter sauce and one for the chicken). Zest and then juice the lemons (make sure to do that in that order! Zesting juiced lemons is not fun!).  Either open the bag salad and pour it in a bowl, or wash and chop up the vegetation for the salad and put it in a bowl. 

Actual Cooking:

  1. Put the butter sticks in the skillet and turn it on medium heat to melt. While that is happening sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken cutlets, then put 1 tbs of olive oil in the pan for the cutlets. Add some salt to the pasta water, then turn it on to boil. 
  2. Once the butter is melted, put the lemon zest and juice in the water and swirl to combine. Take it off heat, and put the other pan on heat. The oil in the pan should be shimmering in a few minutes. 
  3. Toss a half tablespoon of the garlic in the pan - it should sizzle, not blacken. Give it a minute, then swirl the pan a couple of times. About 2 minutes before the pasta goes in the water, put the cutlets on the pan, with some space between each. 
  4. Wait 2 minutes, then add the pasta to the water, set timer for 3 minutes. Flip the cutlets over so the other side starts cooking. 
  5. After 3 minutes, swap the skillets again so the butter is back on heat. Flip the cutlets again to finish the other side with residual heat. Using a strainer move the pasta into the butter sauce and cook for one minute. 
  6. Move the chicken cutlets over the pasta, maybe drizzling the garlic oil onto the chicken, and serve in the skillet to a happy family. Don't forget to bring the salad over.

In future I'll have photos of these things, but I'm sure you can manage that. Dinner on the table in short order, with little more effort than opening a jar of sauce. 

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