They’re good to have. You can bounce ideas off each other, learn new techniques, and they’re always willing to get into VERY. LONG. DISCUSSIONS about food with you because let’s face it, people, food is never a boring subject. Having foodie friends also means there’s really no excuse for me to have blank spots in my monthly menus. Last night was a blank spot until my foodie friend Son posted a picture of a chicken ragu he made. It looked awesome (all of his food does – he’s like my own personal Iron Chef) and I decided that I must have it and immediately. I made just a few tweaks and substitutions based on what I had on hand and baked a batch of these WONDERFUL AMAZING STUPENDOUS garlic knots from the blog Annie’s Eats. I’m a big fan of letting it all hang out on the weekends, food-work wise, and I will get into complicated meals here and there, but after a day full of food shopping and scrubbing my house, I was more than ready for a simple, tasty meal.
recipe from Son Dao
penne rigate pasta
boneless, skinless chicken, cut into smallish pieces (thighs are tastier, but breast is fine)
onion, diced (I used shallots which I already had sliced up)
garlic cloves, diced up
tomato sauce (I crushed up some San Marzanos and used those instead)
rosemary, minced up real fine
thyme, chopped real fine
chopped up parsley
red chili pepper flakes
salt and pepper
Boil some water with salt in it. Cook your pasta al dente. Set aside. Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan. Add your onions and garlic. Cook until the onion is softened and translucent. Stir in the chili pepper flakes (the amount depending on how hot you like things – we just wanted a bit of spice with this dish). Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add this to the onions, garlic, and pepper flakes. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and slightly browned. Add a little white wine to the pan to deglaze. Let it cook a few minutes to cook off the alcohol. Add in the tomatoes or sauce and the herbs and the bay leaf. Let this simmer altogether for a bit to let it all thicken up. Taste for seasoning (add more salt and pepper if you need to) and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Toss this with the cooked pasta and if you’re like me and can’t make a move without cheese of some sort, grate some pecorino or parmesan on top.
Soft Garlic Knots
recipe by Annie’s Eats
3 cups bread flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
a package of active dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup milk
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons warm water
In a small bowl, mix the water and sugar with the yeast and let it sit until it bubbles, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the milk and olive oil. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and the salt. I used scant 3 cups of flour because it seemed like the dough was a bit dry at first (this wasn’t an issue later – after the dough had its initial rise it was nice and soft – not dry at all). Stir the wet ingredients into the flour and mix together. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 8 to 10 minutes, until it’s smooth and elastic. Set in a greased bowl, turn over the dough in the bowl to grease all sides, cover, and let it rise for about an 1 to 1 1/2, or until the dough has doubled in size.
After the first rise, divide the dough into 10 round dough balls. Form these into 10 inch long ropes. Tie the ropes into knots. There will be a “tail” end on the bottom of the knot, and one on top. Tuck the tail on the bottom up and on top of the knot, tuck the tail end from the top under the knot. You’ll see what I mean. Make it so it forms a neat little knot of dough. If you need a visual, follow the link above and there are photographs of the different steps to make these rolls. Lay the formed dough knots on parchment lined baking sheets. Make sure they’re a couple inches apart. Cover again and let rise another hour or so.
Heat the oven to 350. Stir together melted butter, finely minced or pressed garlic cloves, and some Italian seasoning (I use the McCormick’s brand grinders). Brush this mixture over the knots. Bake the knots 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. If you still have more butter mixture, brush is on the cooked, warm knots.