Recipe from Joanne Weir’s Cooking Confidence by Joanne Weir (Taunton Press, 2012)Orecchiette means "little ears" in Italian, and in this delicious dish the whimsical pasta is combined with tender, moist, grilled chicken. The sauce is bright, fresh, and rich all at the same time. A salad of fresh herbs wilts gently into the bed of pasta and adds depth, while the preserved lemon peel adds mild tartness and bursts of intense lemon flavor. My cooking assistant, Bruce Fielding, tells everyone that this is his favorite recipe ever. Thanks, Bruce!
- 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 pound 100% semolina dry orecchiette
- 1 1/2 cups fresh arugula
- 3/4 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
- 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into large pieces
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1 preserved lemon, peel only, cut into 1/4-inch dice
Serves 61. If you are cooking indoors, heat a cast-iron, ridged grill pan over medium heat for 10 minutes. Otherwise, start a charcoal or gas grill.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup of oil, the lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Reserve.
3. Brush the chicken breasts with the remaining 1 Tbs. of oil. Cook the chicken until golden on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the chicken over, season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until done, 4 to 5 minutes. Place the chicken on a work surface and cover with an inverted bowl; let cool for 5 minutes. With your fingers, tear the chicken with the grain into thin pieces. Reserve.
4. Place the chicken stock in a saucepan over high heat and cook until it's reduced to 1 cup. Add the oil and lemon juice mixture and set aside.
5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orecchiette and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes, or according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and put back in the pot; immediately add the stock, chicken, arugula, cilantro, basil, mint, parsley, preserved lemons, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well, place on a platter, and serve immediately.
In the Kitchen-Creating a Steam Tent: Bowls come in handy in the kitchen for more than just tossing a salad or making chocolate chip cookies. I like to invert a bowl over roasted peppers when they have been just charred; this creates steam under the bowl that separates the skin from the pepper away from the flesh of the pepper. I use the same principle for the chicken in this recipe. By inverting a bowl over the chicken, a steam tent is created, keeping the chicken moist. You will see how juicy it is when you tear the chicken into pieces.
Wine pairing: Un-oaked Chardonnay or Arneis
To start, serve an asparagus soup drizzled with crème fraîche.
For dessert, serve a cheese plate garnished with toasted pecans, toasted almonds, dried figs, and dried apricots.