What Would Mama Do?

May 6th, 2007

Pasta with Chicken and Peppers
Two evenings ago, Fatima and I cooked Pollo al Forno in Padella, Pan-Roasted Chicken. I would have posted the recipe and a photograph, but it turned out to be brutta ma buona: not all that photogenic, but delicious nonetheless.

As we are only two, we had leftovers from a four-pound bird. So last evening, the burning question around our kitchen was, what to do with some miscellaneous, fully-cooked chicken parts. Of course, I’m on record all over the place as becoming peckish if I go more than a couple of days without pasta, so that seemed a logical choice. But from that point, we asked the rhetorical question, “What would Mama do?” That is, how would the typical Italian mama use leftovers? A visit to the refrigerator seemed in order.

Right away, we found two cubanelle peppers turning from green to orange. Half a Bermuda onion glowed in the vegetable bin. And during the Florida winter, we always have a bouquet of flat-leaf Italian parsley on hand.

Some tempting local plum tomatoes sat on the counter, but we restrained ourselves. Instead, we opted for the leftover pan sauce from the chicken, supplemented by a little meat broth I had made over the weekend.

But I didn’t use just any broth; this was Paul Bertolli’s Meat Broth (Cooking by Hand, page 135).

A Saturday afternoon and 10 lbs. of hefty beef knuckles and shanks, pigs’ feet, and chicken backs had yielded four quarts of liquid amber. So you can understand why we didn’t want too many distracting elements in our dish.

We took the chicken fat from the leftover pan sauce to sauté some garlic, the sliced cubanelles and coarsely chopped onion. While the vegetables sweated, I shredded the remaining chicken, which we put into the pan when the onion had begun to carmelize .

Then we raised the heat to medium-high and added a cup of the chicken pan sauce. As that reduced, we poured in approximately a half cup of the Bertollian meat broth.

Meanwhile, on the back burner, our linguine was now at the al dente state. We drained it and swirled it into the sauté pan along with approximately half a cup of its cooking water.

Just before serving, we tossed in two generous handfuls of coarsely chopped parsley. We finished the dish at the table with a grating of Pecorino-Romano. We think Mama would have been pleased.

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