SKILLET GRATIN OF MUSHROOMS AND CHICKEN
Gratinata di Pollo e Funghi
When you’re talking about chicken, everybody today assumes you are talking about chicken breasts. But I happen to feel that chicken breasts can be awfully dry if not cooked properly. This recipe, when done right, retains moisture in the breast, and the combination of ingredients gives it a rich and savory complexity of flavors. All you need to serve with it is a tossed salad, and you have a complete meal.
6 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
All- purpose flour, for dredging
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
12 large shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
6 fresh sage leaves
½ cup white wine
½ cup prepared tomato sauce
6 tablespoons grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
Pound the chicken to about ½- inch thickness (or butterfly to the same thickness). Season the chicken with ½ teaspoon of salt. Dredge the chicken lightly in the fl our and tap off any excess. In a large cast- iron skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Lightly brown the chicken on both sides, about 2 minutes per side, then remove to a plate.
Once the chicken is out of the skillet, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, mushroom caps, and garlic. Season with the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Drizzle with ¼ cup of water, and cook until the mushrooms are softened and the water evaporates, about 4 minutes.
Slide the mushrooms to the side, and put the chicken back in the pan, in one layer, and arrange two mushroom caps on top of each piece. Increase the heat to medium- high, and add the sage leaves and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, in pieces, in the spaces in the pan. Pour the white wine and tomato sauce into the spaces in the pan as well. Sprinkle each chicken breast with 1 tablespoon of the grated cheese. Cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to reduce the sauce to your liking, and serve.
This is one of the simplest and yet tastiest preparations of eggs I’ve ever had. One afternoon, a friend and I unexpectedly dropped in on my friend Mario in Trieste. It was lunchtime, and he had a big basket full of fresh eggs he had brought down from the Carso, the high plateau surrounding Trieste. Eggs it was for lunch, served with a bowl of radicchio salad. We were just a few people that day, but this recipe is so very easy to modify for smaller or larger groups.
2 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
8 large eggs
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
Set a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet over a burner that’s still off. Swirl the pan with the olive oil, and gently break all the eggs to fill the pan, taking care not to break the yolks. Sprinkle with the salt and dried oregano. Sprinkle the grated cheese over all.
Cover the skillet, and turn the flame to medium- low. Cook until the whites are set and the yolks are done to your liking, about 7 to 8 minutes for still- runny yolks. This is a great breakfast or main course, or, served over some arugula, it can be an appetizer.
It can be difficult to crack eggs into a skillet for frying. Instead, you can crack two eggs into a small glass bowl and then slide them into the skillet when it’s hot.
ALMOND AND COFFEE CREAM MINI- TARTS
Tartellette alla Crema di Mandorle e Caffè
These mini-tarts are delightful as a finger-food dessert, and although here they are coffee almond-flavored, you can change the flavoring according to your liking or what you have. A simple egg custard with some jam at the bottom of these tarts can be a great option.
2 cups all- purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
12 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into pieces (1½ sticks)
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed
1½ cups milk
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
3 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
Pinch kosher salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon all- purpose flour
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted, for serving
For the dough: In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt. Drop in the butter, and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Beat together the egg yolks and water, and pour into the processor. Pulse until the dough just comes together, adding a little water if crumbly, or a little flour if it is too wet. On the counter, knead the dough a few times; then flatten it into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about ¹⁄8-inch thick. Cut out eight rounds to fit into eight individual 4 ½- inch fluted mini- tart pans. Fit the dough into the pans, and trim so the dough is flush with the rims. Chill for 15 minutes, then place on a sheet pan. Dock the dough with a fork, and place parchment circles filled with pie weights or beans in each tart. Bake until the dough is set but still blond in color, about 10 minutes. Remove the parchment and the weights, and continue baking until the dough is crisp and golden, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven, and cool on racks.
For the coffee cream: In a saucepan, bring the milk just to a simmer, and whisk in the espresso powder. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, salt, cornstarch, and flour until smooth. Whisk in the hot milk a little at a time, tempering the eggs. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan over low heat until it just begins to simmer and thickens. Strain it into a clean bowl, stir in the almond extract, and chill, covering the surface with plastic wrap to keep it from forming a skin.
When the cream is chilled, fold in the whipped cream. Dollop the coffee cream into cooled tart shells, and garnish with almonds. Serve.
Excerpted from Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich with Tanya Bastianich Manuali. Copyright © 2013 by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Lidia Bastianich is represented by Random House Speakers Bureau (http://www.rhspeakers.com).
Tanya Bastianich Manuali received her Ph.D. in Renaissance art history from Oxford University. In 1996 she started Experienze Italiane, a travel company that arranges food, wine, and art tours to Italy. She also co-authors books with her mother, Lidia; manages Lidia's product line; and serves as the cultural and art consultant for the art series. She lives on Long Island.