Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Louis' Lemony Snackette

I had returned from a saucy weekend in Oxfordshire and had not done any shopping. ‘C’ left me suitably smirking all the way back home with her flirtatious antics in the way that you know you had fun, and in my dreamy gormless state I just ambled to the flat and to an empty cupboard without thinking about food.

So picture this: the cupboard is bare, the flat is bare, there is practically an echo as I carry my bags inside and there is little to eat other than random leftovers. So I am left with the question: what do you do with a wilting breast? I am, of course, talking about the plaintive chicken breast sitting on a plate staring back at me from under the condensation covered sheet of cling film, looking like the Janet Leigh in Psycho before the chop, and just begging to be used.

Delving deeper, in other words closing my eyes and fumbling around the back of a cupboard that is clearly designed for taller people, I discover a few ingredients that mean I can embark on a variation to a theme: lemon chicken with an Italian twist (well I say Italian but others are bound to disagree).

The practicalities of arriving (unpacking, changing, laundry, etc) completed, I decide to set the mood. Stan Getz is humming his Bossa Nova beat and the wine is chilled and open (a Pugliese Giardini Falanghina from Sainsbury’s with citrus notes and some creamy elements from sitting on its lees, which should match the lemon zestiness that I am aiming for in the food) as I ready myself for chopping and frying. Everything is laid out in anticipation of a peppery, spicy chicken with a sharp, bittersweet taste tempered by a butter creaminess. So what did I find?

Chicken breast (sliced or cubed)
Celery stick
Unwaxed lemon (zested and juiced)
Chilli flakes
Salt and pepper
Rocket or baby leaf spinach
Spaghetti or similar pasta.

Finely chop the onion and celery and fry slowly in oil until translucent. Next put the chicken pieces into the pan and fry them until they have just lost their rawness. Season as appropriate. Next add a glass of wine (keep a second glass for yourself) and bring the heat up until it starts bubbling. Reduce this down so that most of it has evaporated. As this is happening throw in the lemon zest, garlic and chilli. Finally, turn down the heat, throw in the lemon juice and a knob of butter and let the sauce thicken to a more syrupy texture. Before serving, add the rocket (or in my case a half dead pack of baby leaf spinach) and stir in to wilt it slightly.

I think I would have preferred rocket as it doesn’t wilt so dramatically and has a better peppery flavour. I also wondered if polenta, the second handful from my blind attempt to reach into the cupboard, would have worked, but discarded that idea. In the end, the question is: Did I like it? I was hungry and there was nothing in, I had no choice... of course I liked it! Could I make a few tweaks? In my smirking, trance like state? I doubt it.

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