Never trust a recipe that starts out with heating up oil in a skillet.
Or warming an oven.
Or anything other than take inventory of all the shit you’ll need for this recipe, and what you’ll have to do with it. Find your garlic press. Ensure each integral stupid part is with it. Chop shit up. Know the difference between chop and dice. Account for pasta prep time.
Also for the pace water takes to achieve a rolling boil.
This part makes an FBI probe into private email servers look like the life span of a mayfly.
It’s the first in a series of Cookin’ with Coach Daddy. The process runs down similar lines as those I use to coach, parent, write, and, hell, live: Frentic. With miscalculations and missteps in such succession you wonder how I manage to remember deodorant.
Today’s recipe: Well, it’s chicken, and pasta.
Unique Password Spiced Chicken Over Whatever Pasta is in Your Cupboard
(Unique password, because my spice combination will never be the same twice.)
What you’ll need
- A splash of olive oil – maybe two
- A handful of chopped onion (red rocks, IMHO)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (or butchered with a sharpe knife)
- A pound (ish) of chicken breast, defrosted, if necessary, and chopped into bite-sized chunks (which could be entire breasts if my kids are hungry enough)
- A menagerie of spices of your choice*
- Salt is good
- A few spoonsful of honey
- The handiest pasta around, cooked according to box instructions
- A dash (or 10) of parmesan cheese
- *I won’t recommend pumpkin spice or cream of tartar
- Half a tomato (no bigger than a baseball) or the entire tomato if you’re feeling jerky
What you’ll do
- Splash your oil in the skillet. DO NOT TURN ON THE STOVE. You’re not ready.
- See, you’re supposed to chop up onion and mince garlic, and while the oil heats up, and you’re fumbling around for that damned drum piece to your mincer, your oil will heat up like a turf field on Mercury.
- Chop up onion and mince garlic. If you need, chop the garlic. Red onions taste delirious, but will make you cry. I nearly did. It had a little to do with notification I got right then that the Rockies were already losing to the !@#$! dodgers. Just a little.
- DO NOT TURN ON THE STOVE YET. Even if you have a handsome pile (2/3 cups) of red onion and a beautifully minced pair of garlic cloves, don’t be fooled. If you have to chop or defrost or both your chicken breast, do it before you add any heat to the matter. Trust.
- Got it all set? Release the heat! I mean, turn on that oven. You’ve arrived. Saute onions and garlic. Keep flies off your chopped chicken. (And wooden spoons.)
At this point, an 11-year-old might ask you how to tie an Enos strap. Enos is a term that lives dangerously close to Ios, which, I think, is expensive chapstick. It also sounds like an ostrich-like bird, and probably one of Jupiter’s moons.
This isn’t a good time to Google how to tie the damned things. Pandora’s choice to give you Rise Against and Trapt back-to-back reminds you you’re on a mission.
- If you’ve sautéed your onion and garlic without burning it to look like wood shavings, good on you. Toss in your chicken, herb medley, salt and pepper, and honey. Go wild with the honey, honey. You can’t honey a chicken dish too much.
Elise used to say “too much, daddy, too much,” when I poured her chocolate syrup, syrup, or even gave her grapes for a snack.
(Now would be a nice time to remind you to stop looking for YouTube clips of Tony Shalhoub in Paulie reciting one of your favorite lines of all time – “this is going to taste delirious.”) Because, pasta. And the slow-ass run-up to an actual rolling boil.
(Pandora might give you a little Moonlight Sonata at this point to keep you from heaving the skillet at the moon. One taste test of this honey-coated chicken will turn you soft as a Buddhist beluga whale.)
- Keep the chicken concoction to a simmer while the noodles finish.
- Serve over hot pasta. (Again, if your timing’s off, keep the pasta, after you’ve checked for al dente status, in the warm water, off the direct heat, until you’re close to serving time. This way, the noodles won’t clump up like a toy brain.)
- Sprinkle with Parmesan. For grownups, this truly is a sprinkle. For kids … it’s a dump.
Oh, and that emu, or ibis, or onus … well, the kid got it hooked up good all by herself.
How about you?
Does it feel like you’ve just just passed boot camp, a government cognitive test at Quantico, and an evil stepmother’s plot to destroy you, every time you cook?
Or is it just me… I do love to cook regardless.