Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fettucine with Eggplant and Grilled Chicken

Last night I was in the mood for Italian. I had plenty of time since it's the weekend so I thought a fresh pasta dish was in order.

Here's the ingredients:

for the fresh egg pasta:

10 ounce flour
3 eggs

for the chicken:
2 Tbls lemon juice
2 Tbls Marsala wine
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried oregano

to complete the dish:

1/2 pound fresh egg fettuccine
1 eggplant, chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
1 Tbls kosher salt
2 shallots, sliced

2 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup pesto

Technically this dish started over the summer when I had the foresight to take my abundance of fresh basil and make pesto. I put the pesto into ice cube trays and once frozen I popped then out and stuck them in a freezer bag. Now anytime I'm in the mood for a little taste of summer I just pull out a cube (or two or three), let it thaw and use it just like fresh. Now, if you didn't have the foresight to make pesto over the summer, you could always use store bought.

Tonight I started by making my pasta dough. I use the recipe and method for Fresh Egg Pasta found in Italian Classics from Cook's Illustrated. I combined flour and eggs in the food processor until they came together. The dough was pretty sticky so I added flour a bit at a time until it was the right consistency (it's hard to explain just what the right consistency is but the book (and their Web site) has some nice illustrations and explanations). I turned the dough out and kneaded it for just a couple of minutes then wrapped it in plastic to let it rest.

After the dough I started the chicken in a quick marinade (it's amazing what even a 20-minute marinade does to chicken). I combined all the marinade ingredients in a ziploc bag and then tossed in the chicken.

Next I had to deal with the eggplant. I usually like to use Japanese eggplant since they are less seedy and have a better texture. But the box just had a regular old eggplant so that's what I used. I cut the eggplant into 3/4-inch cubes, put them in a colander, sprinkled them with about 1 tablespoon kosher salt, tossed the eggplant to coat it with the salt and then let it sit for 1/2 hour. This draws excess moisture out of the eggplant. Once the 1/2 hour was up I dumped the eggplant onto a kitchen towel and dried it thoroughly, patting off as much of the excess salt as possible.

I used my fancy-schmancy Kitchen-Aid pasta roller to cut my fettuccine, prepped the rest of my ingredients and I was finally ready to cook (because obviously up until now I haven't been cooking at all).

I started a big pot of water boiling, heated up my grill pan and my big-ass saute pan. I started the chicken in the grill pan and in the saute pan I warmed some olive oil then added my garlic, red-pepper flakes and shallots. After about a minute I added my eggplant and started my pasta. When the pasta was ready I added it directly to the saute pan along with about 1/2 cup of the pasta water and the pesto. I tossed all this together (adding a bit more pasta water because the sauce seemed dry) and put it onto my plates. I sliced up my chicken and placed it on top of the pasta then added of dusting of the Parmigiano Reggiano we smuggled from Italy.

How was it? Well, the picky husband said it was good, except for the eggplant, and I think I concur. While I like the flavor of eggplant this just didn't have a great texture. If I made this again I would definitely use japanese eggplant. I think the next time the box preview indicates that it will contain eggplant I may just have them trade it for something else.

P.S. This was a ton of food. Neither of us finished our plate (but the leftovers did make a nice lunch today).

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