Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Or, the Act of Eating Poultry at Home.

Last night we had our friend Debbie M. and her mother over for dinner, in observance of Debbie’s birthday. Of course, I’m too much of a gentleman to reveal which birthday, but it suffices to know that a couple of nickels were involved.

That’s vague enough, innit? After all, this country did, at one time, make a nickel three-cent piece.

The four of us had a very pleasant evening, complete with Ceremonial Birthday Cake. But how can you have any pudding cake if you don’t eat your meat? Answer: You cannot. And so we preceded the cake with a meal that included…chicken!

The Missus prepared a nice Insalata Caprese: sliced mini-tomatoes, each decorated with a slice of fresh mozzarella and a basil leaf, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and with a sprinkling of fleur de sel, that most eminent form of sea salt.

Meanwhile, I ginned out some Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, having roasted a handful of whole garlic heads the previous day. I had greased the garlic heads up nicely with olive oil, then roasted them at 350°F for an hour, until the flesh within was nice and tender. Using my handy-dandy ricer (kinda like a giant garlic press) I squooshed the softened garlicky goodness out of the heads, reserving it for later use. And now was the time. A couple of teaspoons of this fragrant garlic goo, added to three Idaho Russets (peeled, cut into chunks, then boiled for 30 minutes and put through the ricer) jacked the flavor profile up nicely. Whisk in some butter and hot milk to get the texture right, dot with more butter, and you’re good to go.

For a green vegetable, I sautéed up some broccoli rabe - the leafy, slightly bitter cousin to plain ol’ broccoli - with olive oil and garlic.

For the entrée, I had decided on something chickeny. How about something involving Pounded Chicken Titz? Why not?

Chicken Bazoom Roll-ups Florentine à la mode d’Elisson

4 boneless chicken breasts
One pound fresh spinach
4 oz Pecorino Romano cheese
Olive oil
¼ cup dried currants
½ cup pine nuts
4 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper

First, toast the pine nuts in a hot skillet until golden brown. Be careful not to burn ’em. Set aside.

Soak the currants in a cupful of hot water for 10-15 minutes. Drain; set aside.

Place a chicken breast on a heavy cutting board and cover with a layer of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat tenderizing mallet, pound that sucker flat. Repeat for the remaining chicken breasts.

In a sauté pan or skillet, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add about half the minced garlic, then throw in the spinach. Cook it down until soft and dark green, then add the currants and pine nuts. (Save a few pine nuts to sprinkle on the completed roll-ups.) Grate in half of the Pecorino Romano. Stir well, take off the heat.

Now, take a flattened chicken breast. Put a couple of tablespoons of the spinach mixture in the center and flatten with the spoon. Roll up the chicken breast into a cylinder, trapping the spinach mixture within. Secure with a wooden toothpick and place into a baking dish. Repeat for the other breasts.

Drizzle the chicken breast roll-ups with olive oil, then sprinkle with the reserved garlic and pine nuts, plus a few twists of the pepper mill. Grate the remaining Pecorino Romano over the chicken.

Bake in a 350°F oven for 40 minutes. Don’t forget to remove the toothpicks before eating! Alternatively, the finished roll-ups may be sliced into attractive rounds before serving, if you’re sufficiently anal and Martha-Stewartish.

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