Not Bad for a Thursday Night #13 – Saturday Summer School Edition #1

Wow.  What a week.  One full week off from school and back into the action, 3 days a week.  So basically I had  a short chance to catch my breath after this spring semester then dove right back in…  Someone told me they think I’m motivated, I would beg to differ, I think I may just be insane.

Regardless of all of this, I need to cook some good food and relax at the same time so for tonight’s Thursday Night Dinner (Saturday) I have for you Rotisserie Chicken and Pasta Salad paired with Verdejo.

Today was the first really Hot day of the season, thankfully we’re finally in some “typical” weather and we hit the 90’s today, so the obvious choice for dinner was a grilled or BBQ’d dish…  Anything that could be prepared outside as to not cook the house by firing up the oven and burners in the house.

I was thinking that an herb seasoned rotisserie chicken would really hit the spot and wanted to pair it up with something “summery” and light, so I decided on a pasta salad to go along with the chicken.

I’ve done a few rotisserie chickens now and they really are an amazing dish.  Super simple to prep and cook (which is a plus when you’re looking to relax a bit).

kitchenprep
Ingredients for Rotisserie

I did this one slightly different than previous attempts.  I took a whole large “Fryer” chicken, removed the giblets and other goodies that chicken processors think you might actually want and washed out the inside and out, dried with a paper towel, inside and out.  I made a quick visit to my garden and clipped off about a large handful of fresh rosemary, wash this off and stuff into the cavity of the chicken.

stuffed bird
Stuff Bird with Rosemary

Prepare the chicken by cracking some sea salt, garlic powder, fresh cracked black pepper and some oregano.  Place the chicken on the rotisserie skewer and tie up the legs.

stuffed and tied
Stuffed, Tied, and ready to Spin

Sprinkle seasoning all over the chicken and place on the grill.  Start the rotisserie spinning.  I place a baking pan below the chicken to catch the drippings to avoid flare ups, something I did differently this time was to add water to the pan and refill the pan as the water evaporated.  This added humidity into the cooking environment and probably did some steaming of the chicken, I had to refill the 13×9 pan about 5 times during the cooking.  Monitor the grill temperature and maintain it between 250 and 275 Fahrenheit.

just started
Just Getting Started

The pasta salad was another easy dish.  I picked up some klamata and green olives and grape tomatoes at the store earlier.  I started a large pot of water boiling, added some salt and oil (to keep pasta from sticking) and once boiling added some fun radiatori pasta.  Cook pasta to al dente, about 8 minutes, drain and rinse with cool water.  Place in a bowl and put into the refrigerator  to cool for at least 1 hour.  After cooled, chop up about 1/2 cup each klamata and green olives and 1 cup tomatoes, mix with pasta and 1/3 cup champagne dressing (or Italian) add some crumbled feta cheese.

So I had grand plans of cooking this entire meal outside on the grill but I failed to take into consideration that when the rotisserie is rolling, the lid for the “side burner” on the grill is inaccessible.  You know, the side burner, that thing you never ever use.  I was actually hoping to use mine (still haven’t even lit the burner…).

One of the best things about cooking meals on the rotisserie is that they take some time and don’t require a whole lot of interaction, which leaves some time to take care of the “Important Things.”

benefits of slow cooking
Benefits of Slow Cooking

This was an enjoyable afternoon, sipped a few cold ones and played in the water with the boy and the wife, well mostly with the boy but, I digress.

the boy and I
Chilling out on a hot day

So the chicken should cook on the spit for about 2 1/2 hours at between 250-275 F, I kept the drip pan full of water and refilled it as it evaporated.

on the spit
on the spit

Once an instant read thermometer reads about 170 remove the bird from the BBQ and let rest about 10 minutes.  Quarter by cutting the bird in half lenghtwise, then in half again.  This works out really well for me since I am a dark meat fiend and the wife really prefers white meat.

Not Bad
Not Bad

I had decided to pair it with a light white wine and was thinking Sauvignon Blanc at first but really have  been interested in trying something different.  I found a nice Verdejo at the local market and the shelf-talker said similar to Sauv Blanc, I decided to take a chance on it and picked it up.  A very nice light white wine that I’ll post a review to soon.  It went exceptionally well with the rosemary infused chicken, klamata olives and tomatoes in the pasta salad.  Here’s to summer finally arriving in Sonoma County, and another “Not Bad for a Thursday Night Dinner” Summer School Edition.

Not Bad 13
Not Bad 13 - Summer School Edition

Cheers

Brian

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Not Bad for a Thursday Night Dinner – Chicken Carbonara

Oh what a nice week this has been, the sad thing is that it’s now Thursday again and my short, one-week break from school is coming to a close.  I just loved being able to make my “Not Bad” dinner without worrying about papers and presentations or chapters to read or studying for tests.  So I decided why not indulge a bit.  I did some perusing of recipes (like usual) and had a thought about carbonara.  I saw a post a few weeks or months or whatever ago on Rick Bakas’s site where he did a carbonara and I decided I could do that, perhaps better <grins>.  Well after seeing many different styles I decided to take the things I thought sounded good and go that route.

So Chicken Carbonara ala Norcal Wingman:

Ingredients:

2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
6 oz. Columbus cubed pancetta (easier than chopping it up yourself)
8 or so skinny asparagus spears
4 Egg yolks
1/2 Cup Fresh grated Pecorino-Romano
1/2 Cup Fresh grated Parmesian
2 Cloves Garlic
Fresh Basil
1 Lemon
Splash of Dry White wine
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper (to taste)
Spaghetti, Fettuccine, or Linguine –  I used Spaghetti, which I would like to especially thank “the wife” for running back to the store to get.

First Thing,

Get yourself a big skillet, I only had a 12″ and wish I had something either a bit bigger or deeper… anyhow, start cooking the pancetta in the skillet over medium-low heat, you want the fat to render out.

Pancetta
Pancetta in the Skillet

In a bowl get your egg yolks ready and shred your parmesan and pecorino-romano cheese, stir together.  Prep the pot for cooking the pasta, fill it up with water, add salt and a dash of oil to keep the pasta from sticking together, start warming that up.  In a separate skillet or however you normally do your asparagus, boil/steam your veg until tender, remove from heat and cool to stop cooking, remove from water and set aside.  Finely chop garlic cloves.

Egg yolks, cheese and basil

Chop up your chicken into nice bite size chunks and when the pancetta is starting to brown and get crispy remove from skillet and reserve (heh, that’s what the cooks say, reserve…).  Raise the heat up to medium/medium-high and put chicken chunks into pancetta fat add chopped garlic and crack some black pepper.

Cooking Chicken
Chicken sauteeing in pancetta fat

Cook chicken turning as it gets golden brown.  Your water for the pasta should be close to a boil, if it’s not crank up the heat and get it boiling, start your pasta now!  Turn down the heat on the chicken and return the pancetta to the skillet, deglaze skillet with a splash of wine.  Chop asparagus into 1 inch bits.  Chop up basil into nice strips.  Zest half of the lemon.

acoutremant
Asparagus, Basi, and Lemon Zest

Pasta should be cooked al’ dente and should be just about ready.  Drain pasta and shake well to remove as much water as possible.  Place pasta into skillet and stir in asparagus, basil and lemon zest.  Remove skillet from heat and add egg yolk and cheese mixture, stir in well to thoroughly coat pasta, chicken and all the goodies.  You can add a splash of water (or wine) if it becomes to thick.  The idea is not to cook the eggs but rather to let them coat everything evenly.  Plate and garnish with a fresh sprig of basil over some lemon zest.

plated
Chicken Carbonara

In addition to researching carbonara recipes I searched long and hard for a great wine to pair with this dinner.  I checked everywhere, Nat Decants, Hello Vino, Google, all sorts of differing opinions on this.  Many folks say that the bacon/pancetta smoky meat pairs well with a Syrah or a Chianti, but a red wine seemed out of place with a chicken pasta dish.  I decided on a white, Pinot Gris.  I thought that the higher acidity and lemon would really match up with this varietal.  I found a Taft Street 2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Gris at Olivers and it was a great match.

Not Bad 12
Not Bad for a Thursday Night Dinner

The rich carbonara, bacon and egg really pack a wallop and the good acidity and citrus fruit of this wine cut through and bring out the lemon.  Yeah for great wine pairings!

This dinner is probably up in my top 3 now, it was really good and easy to cook, not to mention quick as compared to some others.  Now If I could just get Steve Poizner’s damn AutoDialer  to stop calling us every Effing Night I could thoroughly enjoy my “Not Bad” dinner.  By the way Steve, you are not going to get my vote, or “the wife’s” just because you call… every damn night.

AutoDialer
Screw you Poizner!

I digress, plates are clean!

Clean Plate
Oh Yeah!

Well, that’s it for this week, oh and if you missed last week’s “Not Bad”  I was a special guest blogger over on Tim Hilcove’s Weekly Wine Journal, click over and check out my Memorial Day BBQ “Not Bad” of Ribs 3 Ways!

Norcal Wingman Guest blog
NorCal Wingman on Weekly Wine Journal

Cheers until next time,

Brian