Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Went To The Dark Side

I was making mustard (guess which kind of mustard!) and panko crusted chicken breasts the other day and I wanted a pasta dish to go with it. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I decided to search around RR’s recipes.

This is what I found. I tried only the pasta part of the recipe, because I already had the chicken covered. Plus I didn’t like the idea of dipping the chicken in slimy egg whites before the cheese. I know that many folks use whites instead of the whole egg and that IS a good idea for cutting down on fat, but I wanted mine to taste good. (Rachael DOES direct you to season both sides of the chicken BEFORE coating, which oftentimes is forgotten.)

Anyway, the pasta part seemed benign enough and I resolved to follow that section of the recipe EXACTLY as written, even if I had to fight every right-thinking impulse I had.

There seems to be an awful lot of DROPPING going on in the recipe: “drop your chicken cutlets”; “drop your pasta”…at least no one is dropping his drawers. I’m just wondering if I’m going to feel like dropping the finished product on the floor... We’ll see.

We’re told to boil a large pot of salted water for the pasta and cook the pasta, saving some of the water. Meanwhile, we’re cooking scallions, garlic and lots of parsley in olive oil. Hold it right there. A cup of parsley is going in NOW?

That’s not right. I should add the parsley at the end, so it gives the dish freshness and keeps its color. Oh, gosh, I SAID I was going to follow the recipe exactly, but everything I know, every bit of experience I've garnered in all these years of cooking is telling me not to add the parsley until the dish is finished. It'll turn brown, I just know it will. WHAT TO DO?!! I do as I’m told, which doesn’t happen too often…because I said I would. I reluctantly mix in the parsley.

I add the remaining ingredients – lemon zest and juice, artichoke hearts, cheese and some pasta water. I “hit” the pan as directed with seasonings, then toss in the pasta and add spinach leaves at the end.

Okay, I followed her recipe. Here's the dish:

What do you think?

The parsley one hundred percent definitively should NOT have been added that early. It gathers in olive green unattractive lumps in different parts of the dish.

I’m glad I didn’t involve her in the chicken part of the dish. (That's a roasted tomato on the side, which I'll show you another day.)

HER chicken would not have been particularly good. Using ALL grated Parmesan and no crumbs in the coating would have given it a freakish, I mean fricco-ish, coating that would shatter too easily and probably make each bite too salty. Cheese mixed into breadcrumbs or panko is better balanced.

Actually, the pasta didn’t taste bad. But I knew that the parsley had been mishandled and that the dish would have had a much nicer, fresher aspect if only it had been added at the end. It just goes to show that instinct and experience are as important in the kitchen as in the real world.

The only other thing I can say is that, at least, no part of the dish was from pre-made, shelf-stable products and, thank goodness, there were no table decorating tips to go along with it.


Lunch Buckets said...

Well thank God you're okay. Don't worry, I'm sure Ina still loves you.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Don't worry about the dark side. Even I have made a Rachael Ray recipe from time to time (although mostly ones from older episodes before she ran out of ideas and all of her dishes became tons of ground meat or a big steak + cheese + jam). I'm sure the lessons have been learned.

Your chicken really looks delicious though. Me want!

Emiline said...

I'm glad nobody dropped their drawers either!

I never write drop in a recipe. I think I always say, place, or add.

I never write "hit" either. There's a lot of motion going on with her cooking. I'm surprised someone hasn't been injured.

Dona said...

YumO! Just kidding, the chicken looks fantastic. Have you notice Ann Burrell is off the air?