So OK, I have these little rules. I don't have obsessive-compulsive disorder or anything, I just like certain things to be certain ways. Because these certain ways of mine make good sense. To me.
Like, if I'm going to sprinkle grated Pecorino as a garnish over a dish of baked pasta, I turn the pasta over with my fork first, moving the cheesy baked topping to the bottom of the dish. That way, you don't have a layer of cheese (grated Pecorino) over a layer of cheese (crusty mozzarella). The salty goodness of the cheeses are therefore evenly distributed throughout the dish, instead of piled atop one another where you might eat them in one bite and then be left with cheese-less pasta on the bottom of the dish (the horror).
Or, if I'm untacking a horse, I must put the bridle back in the tack room first, before removing the saddle. I can't let the bridle just hang there on the hook, reasonably, while I alleviate the unceasing pressure of the cinch from the horsie's belly. No, the poor horse must stand there, looking around, continuing to suck in and wonder if that cinch makes her look fat, while I deliberately return the bridle to its appointed hook. I do this because if I don't, I forget to put the bridle away because I get too involved with talking to the goats and dodging the errant barn cats.
And just as a for-instance, even though we have a dishwasher, I insist that certain dishes be hand-washed. I have decided that my sea foam Fiestaware, for example, cannot withstand the horrific rigors of the dishwasher. I think I decided this because one piece got discolored on the edge from leaning up against a cookie sheet while it dried, leaving a teeny rust stain. Why I blamed this on the dishwasher is anyone's guess, but so it is. They are my favorite dishes and they are treated specially as a result. The sunflower coffee cups that we bought in Ecuador must also be hand-washed, mostly because I don't want the fragile "CUENCA" mark on their bases to be scrubbed away. The pots have to be washed by hand, and not on the perfectly capable "pots and pans" cycle, because they are big and take up too much space in the dishwasher, leaving no room for anything else. (Appropriate question: "Anything else? It would seem that you don't allow any dishes in your dishwasher, Dianne.") And the knives! The knives must be washed immediately, dried and returned to the blocks. They are not permitted to sit in the sink awaiting cleaning. But that's just good safety sense.
So anyway, it turns out that I am a little OCD, apparently. Except for that knife-safety bit. A knife is in your hand, on your board, or in your block. Or at the local cookware shop, getting sharpened on the first Monday of the month.
And because I like things just so, I insist that this delicious dinner of delicate angel hair pasta mixed with a sharp melange of artichoke hearts and capers be topped with toasted panko instead of my usual favored grated Pecorino. There are enough salty elements to the dish to render it just perfect. Pecorino would gild the lily, and not in a good way. I have my reasons, and they are sound.
Unlike when I gently and rationally and repeatedly remind Husband why the dish towel should stay by the sink, and not all the way across the room by the basement door.*
*What use is it way over there? When my hands are wet, at the sink, the towel should be waiting.
CHICKEN WITH ARTICHOKES, ANGEL HAIR AND TOASTED PANKO
For the toasted panko:
3 T. olive oil
1/2 c. panko
1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
Sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste
For the rest of the dish:
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
Pinch sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
3 T. olive oil
1 c. chicken stock
1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts packed in water, drained, rinsed and quartered
2 T. capers, drained and rinsed
3 T. unsalted butter
1 lb. angel hair pasta
1/2 c. fresh parsley leaves, chopped
First, make the toasted panko crumblies. Place the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the panko, parsley, salt and pepper and toast, stirring occasionally, until the panko is toasty and browned. Set aside, off the heat.
Then, get to making the rest of the dish. Set a large pot of salted water to boil. In a shallow dish, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in batches, adding a little more oil if the pan gets too dry, until the chicken is a pleasing light golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Set aside.
Add the chicken stock to the empty skillet, scraping the skillet with a wooden spoon to loosen the crusty tasty bits. Bring the stock to a boil; cook until reduced by half. Add the artichokes, capers and chicken and juices to the pan. Gently swirl to combine, and bring just to the boil. Remove skillet from the heat and stir in butter; cover to keep warm.
Add the pasta to the boiling salted water and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet, mixing it with the chicken, artichokes and sauce. Top with parsley and serve sprinkled with the reserved toasted panko.
Previously, on A Stove With A House Around It:
One year ago: guacamole
Two years ago: honey biscuits
Three years ago: chocolate crinkles