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Chicken Scallopini in a Traveling Kitchen

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015We’re back from a trip to Houston to christen my new godson. Something around a million bug bites later, we’re itchy and exhausted, but had a wonderful weekend playing outside and staying up too late. After a brief discussion of child-friendly restaurant options on Sunday, we decided to go to the store and cook at home instead. Kid friendly usually equals an oddly overpriced beatdown for a mediocre meal in my book. All of the options I find that are truly kid friendly have absolutely awful food. I know some children exist on Kraft mac and cheese and plain pasta, but does that mean their parents should have to suffer bland, uninspired meals as well? I think not.

I’ve mentioned before that my talent usually does not lie in true meal cost savings, but at providing exceptional food for typical casual dining prices. We did pretty well on this one, with a few leftover items, I think our cost including alcohol ran about $40 – maybe $35? for a family of four. One of the fun things about traveling for me is checking out different grocery stores. We went to the Fiesta [2] on this trip. Fiesta is an inexpensive grocery with a larger than average section of Hispanic foods. In college we thought of it as the place to go for the cheapest beer.  Put your preconceived notions aside, if you have them. This was a very nice grocery with very well priced food. You can buy crap food anywhere, even at nice groceries. My prime example for this was our chicken. I like to buy Buddy’s Brand Chicken.  It’s all natural, no antibiotics, free range, vegetarian-fed, etc.  I’ll double check the price per pound in my normal grocery and report back this week, but I’m pretty sure it runs in the 6-8$ range. I could be grossly exaggerating, but I’m pretty sure that’s correct. The cost at Fiesta for the same chicken? $3.99 per pound for skinless, boneless, I am quite certain I can’t find that price anywhere but Costco.  And the taste was exceptional.

Whenever you cook in someone else’s kitchen, it’s usually a trick finding the right supplies and being frustrated by not having your usual suspects.  Luckily, Lisa is my best friend and we have a bunch of the same stuff.  I did get quite a kick out of admiring one of her All-Clad pans, when she said, “uh… you gave me that.  For my wedding.”   Wow, I have excellent taste.  The only equipment she was lacking was totally unnecessary lemon juicer.  You can totally make the recipe without one, you just have to scoop out your seeds.  Anyway, if you’re looking for one, I find this [3] model works best.

Chicken Scallopini

8 boneless,  skinless chicken breasts (thin ones – or pound them out)

1 c. flour

2 eggs

kosher salt

fresh ground pepper

olive oil

4 c. chicken broth

juice from 3 small lemons

3.5 oz jar capers, non-pareil, drained

1/2 of the large bunch of flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped, about 1.5 c

3 tbsp butter

1 large package vermicelli

Put the flour in a wide, shallow bowl.  Add a generous pinch of salt and 3 turns of fresh ground pepper.  Stir with a fork.  Beat the two eggs in another shallow bowl.  Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Dip chicken in the egg, then dredge with the flour, shaking off any excess.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Add enough olive oil to just coat the bottom of the pan.  Brown chicken breasts on each side, three at a time.  You do not need to cook through, just brown.  Adjust heat to prevent over browning, and add olive oil to keep the surface just coated.  When brown, remove to a plate and set aside.

Add chicken broth to skillet and stir with a wooden spatula to scrape up any brown bits.  Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add lemon juice, capers, and parsley, cook 1 minute.  Add butter, cut into 1 tbsp portions and swirl until combined.  Add reserved chicken back to skillet, cover, and simmer about 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook vermicelli in salted water with 1 tbsp olive oil.  Drain.  Serve chicken and sauce over pasta.