Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chicken, Leek and Caper Pasta

This is a quick dish that is the perfect use for the leftover bits of the previous night's roast chicken. Using the combination of sweet leeks and bitter shallots to make a wonderfully rich base for the flavors is something that I stole from a random cookbook who's name has been lost to the ages. To whomever wrote about it (perhaps Patricia Wells?) thank you! Aside from that, the combination of capers, white wine and chicken is a classic. 

As a technical digression, if you don't understand the underlying principle, the reason you use wine in a recipe (specifically the reason you use *dry* white wine) is not just to add a wine-y flavor, but much more importantly to add acid. The acid from the wines will act the same way that lemon or vinegar will cause all of the other flavors flavors in a dish to "pop," assuming you have the salt level correct. 

Serve this with whatever white wine you had to force yourself to open to make the dish ;)

Chicken, Leek and Caper Pasta
Serves 2 with leftovers for tomorrow's lunch

1 lb leeks, halved, washed and sliced 
2 small shallots, minced
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 lb leftover chicken, shredded
1/8 c dry white wine
2 tbs cappers, rinsed and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
1/8 tsp hot pepper flakes
2 tbs italian parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 lb linguine or tagletelle, fresh or dried 

1) Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

2) Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, until fragrant (the idea is to infuse the oil).

3) Add the pepper flakes, cappers and shallots and sauté for about 60 seconds. 

4) Add the leeks and cook for 4-5 minutes until they are lightly colored. 

5) Pour in the wine and cook until it's mostly reduced. 

6) Add the chicken reduce the heat to low and cover, stirring occasionally, until the leeks soften and the chicken heats through. (About 10 minutes.)

6) Add the pasta to the water so that it finishes cooking to al dente a minute or two after the leeks are done. 

7) About 5 minutes after you cover the leeks add 1/2 cup pasta water to the leek mixture.

8) Transfer the noodles from the pot with a pasta fork once they are done. 

9) Add the parsley and mix it in well the noodles and leeks. Turn off the burner and let stand for 3-4 minutes so the noodles can absorb some the sauces flavor. 

Serve with a simple mixed greens salad and some thin slices of galric bread. 

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