So. Many. Pots.
For a PASTA dish. A good pasta dish, mind you, but not a MINDBLOWING pasta dish. If it had been MINDBLOWING, I wouldn’t have been so irked at the four dirty pots and pans of various and sundry sizes it took to make. But since it was simply good, I am irked; it should have taken no more than two, one for pasta and one for sauce.
Of course, I’m only irked in theory, if such a thing is even possible, because I didn’t actually do the dishes. But Brian did, so let’s say I’m irked on his behalf.
Thus will end my use of the word “irked.”
Tonight: fusilli, chicken and asparagus in a tomato-thyme-cream sauce, from Rick Tramonto’s American Brasserie. It sounded simple, it sounded hearty, it sounded like it would take less than four pots. I guess 2 outta 3 ain’t bad.
I started the sauce as soon as I got home, since it would have to simmer for 45 minutes. Red onion, garlic and thyme, followed up by white wine, a can of whole tomatoes and heavy cream.
To call the cream I used merely “heavy” is to do it a disservice. It was a local, happy grass-fed cow, not-ultra-pasteurized heavy cream from a dairy whose milk practically tastes like heavy cream. You have to be careful when you pick up the bottle lest you agitate it too much, causing it to instantly turn to butter. It’s wonderful, and a secret disgusting part of me wants to use it on a bowl of cereal.
I won’t, though, because there isn’t enough left that would be obscene.
Also obscene? Photographs of raw chicken. They just always look so raunchy, I don’t know why I take them. But I do! So enjoy. Make a game of it, see how many parts of this photo look like a vagina. Go! I see three already!
I seared up the chicken while the sauce simmered down. Ricky told me to cook the breasts for 3-4 minutes per side, but he didn’t see the behemoth breasts delivered by Fresh Direct. I felt kinda bad for them, for they had clearly come from very top-heavy chickens, chickens who I’m sure were uncomfortable with their bustiness.
I don’t like that kind of guilt with my chicken. I’m a white liberal ex-Catholic, I have enough guilt. Then again, I’m also a radical feminist, so my righteous anger with the patriarchy tends to offset my white liberal guilt. I don’t need a chicken breast to tip the balance in guilt’s favor.
I pulled the guilt chicken out of the pan and tossed in some pencil-thin asparagus.
This was all meant to happen on the grill, or in our case, the hobo drum, but the sun was already setting. Not that that would have stopped Brian, had I asked, who is already planning ways to simultaneous smoke a rack of ribs and grill a sausage-and-pepper “fatty” on the hobo drum this weekend. Why have one kind of pork for dinner when you can have two? That’s one of our life rules, along with “Hooray for chocolate milk!” and “No sucker punches.”
While the asparagus cooked and the chicken rested, I chopped some more onion for the second half of the sauce procedure. It was at about this point that I realized I wasn’t going to be able to eat this meal, because of overindulgence in onion straws at lunch that caused not-inconsiderable gastrointestinal distress throughout the afternoon. Some people drink too much at lunch to be able to go back to work; me, I eat too many onion straws. We all have our vices, however sad they may be.
Point being, there was a lot more onion going in the sauce, and I’d already hit my onion ingestion quota for the day. My stomach was quite clear on that point.
I tossed the onion and some more thyme into pot #3 (pot #1 being the sauce pot, and #2 being the cast-iron pan used to sear the chicken and asparagus), adding the chicken and asparagus along with more wine. I also put pot #4, the pasta cooking pot, on to come to a boil.
When the wine had reduced a bit, I poured the contents of pot #1 into pot #3, mixed everything together and blindly seasoned without tasting because I was still kinda squicked by all the onions. As a side note, do you know what will not (1) kill onion straw breath or (2) settle onion straw stomach? A cup of coffee, no matter how much milk you put in it. Just letting you know. I heard it from someone.
When pot #4 hit a boil, I poured in a pound of pretentious pasta. It was on sale, I didn’t know it was going to end up being pretentious; it had just-so rustic labeling and a warning that while it would take longer to cook, I would be rewarded in the end. Guess what, pretentious pasta people: a LOT of pasta takes 11 minutes to cook. You taste good, but in the scheme of things, you are not special. Deal with it.
When all the pots were done cooking all their contents, I mixed them all together, plated a heaping bowlful with some curls of parmigiano, forgot to add the chiffonade of basil and took this washed-out looking photo, which is a lesson in why I should not post-process any of my photos. Note to self: if you’re going to use photo-processing software, you should learn how to use it and not just play with all the tools willy-nilly. The outcome will not match the picture in your head. Leave well enough alone.
I very much enjoyed the bowl of Special K I had while Brian ate his bowl of pasta. It was he who proclaimed it good but not MINDBLOWING. He also noted, channeling his inner Top Chef judge, that the thyme flavor was somewhat muted, possibly by the heaviest cream, the asparagus did a good job retaining its grassy flavor, but that on the whole, the dish wasn’t focused enough. So there you go.
There are lots of other, more complex recipes in the book that sound exciting and excellent and doubtless will involve upwards of six pots and pans, and which I will one day attempt despite the fact that I only have four burners.
There’s also a dessert section written by Rick’s pastry chef, Gale Gand, that deserves its own investigation and will probably involve two kinds of mixers, five baking sheets and 17 whisks.
I’ll have to stock up.