Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fresh Orecchiette with Chicken Cacciatore

As most parents will attest, some days can be more trying than others.  Gabi, my nine year old sidekick is home for the summer and always looking for excitement.  I’m showered with requests all day long … Can we rearrange my room again? When can we go to Aunt Carla’s swimming pool?  Can we do something fun?  And of course, we have that age old question, what’s for lunch?  Lately she has been requesting what she calls “luxury meals”.  Each time she uses that term “luxury meal” I do all I can to keep from laughing.  These so termed “luxury meals” consist of some type of cooked pasta with a meat and vegetables in a savory sauce.  I’m very happy to oblige these requests, since her so called luxury meals contain a very nutritious mix of ingredients.  Today I suggested that we make some homemade pasta together.  She was so excited.  Ultimately, I had killed two birds with one stone.  In one fantastic dish she’d get her excitment for the day and a luxury meal.  The hour or so that we spent laughing together as we made pasta was priceless.  When a simple activity like this can put a smile onto a little girl’s face, life is good my friends.        
Pasta Ingredients:
1/2 cup Rice Flour   
1/4 cup Potato Starch      
1 tsp Xanthan Gum      
2 large Eggs           

Video Tutorial:

In a medium bowl stir all of the dry ingredients together before adding the eggs.  Now mix everything together.  I tend to use the back of my spoon in a smash and drag type motion along the bottom or sides of the bowl.  If the dough feels particularly stiff I work it with my hands until a smooth supple texture is achieved.  This dough won’t require the usual kneading step since there isn’t any gluten to develop like there would be with regular pasta dough.  Once you have a smooth ball of dough flatten it out then wrap it in plastic wrap, while prep your ingredients for the chicken cacciatore.
Chicken Cacciatore Ingredients:
2 Chicken Breasts (boneless skinless - sliced into 1” pieces)
1 cup Crushed Tomatoes
1 Green Bell Pepper (sliced)
1 small Onion (sliced)
4-5 Mushrooms (sliced)
1 clove of Garlic (sliced) 
1 Serrano Pepper (optional)
¼ cup Red Wine
Salt & Pepper to taste
Once you’ve finished prepping the above ingredients continue on with the pasta. 

Dust your table or cutting board with potato or corn starch. Place your dough onto the board then slice ½ inch lengths off the pasta dough. Now cut your ropes of pasta into ½ inch pieces. Take each piece and roll it into a ball then depress the center with your knuckle against your flat palm on the opposite hand then peel it off your knuckle and place it onto a wooden cutting board or cookie sheet dusted with potato or cornstarch.  Don’t worry about perfection here since you’ll want it to look homemade.  Once you’re all finished making the Orechiette, put a large pot of water on to boil and get started with the chicken.    

Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet set on a medium high heat and saut√© the chicken with salt and pepper to taste until the pieces are a light golden brown.  Remove the chicken from the pan.  In the same pan add more olive oil then saute all of the vegetables with more salt and pepper to taste for about five minutes or until the vegetables start to soften and brown slightly.  Add the crushed tomatoes, the wine and optionally a few red pepper flakes.  Add the chicken back to the pan, then cover it and turn down your flame to low.
By now your pasta water should be boiling.  Drop the Orechiette into the water with some salt.  Cook them for 3-4 minutes then drain them and add into the pan with the chicken.  Toss everything together in the pan and you’ll be ready to plate the dish.  If you want you could add some grated cheese, crushed red pepper, and a few ribbons of basil.  Now you're ready to enjoy this dish.

And here's Gabi, with her "luxury meal" plated and photographed her way... 

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