This is the wine carnage that resulted from yesterday evening's dinner party. You know it was a good time when you're too busy cooking and chatting up the company to have a moment to think about taking pictures of the delightful food that was eaten. Ah well, this will have to do.
The fella and I had three delightfully patient friends over to enjoy our first attempt at a genuine dinner party. With all the prep work I had done the day before and the hour head start I was getting before anyone arrived I thought people would walk in the door about the time the “pizza” was coming out of the oven. How wondrously optimistic of me. That just is never going to happen when anything from he Boulud cookbook is involved. Things got super complicated there for a while.
The eggplant refused to be mandolined, cut or salted. Then it burnt and smoked while being fried just in time for the first guests to arrive and help me air out the noxious plume of smoke in the kitchen so no one would asphyxiate.
Then I realized the fresh basil that went in both recipes had gone black and not at all fresh so the fella was sent out for new basil while out to pick up our other friend. Apparently it was an adventure to find it being so out of season so he was gone a lot longer than expected. I had to go on assembling the fakey pizza without the basil and hope it would be okay tossed on top later.
By now all the counters were covered in the wreckage of three half prepared dishes, making butterflying and pounding chicken breast practically an Olympic sport. I didn't allow myself to look at our friends to see how they were handling the now I'm sure very apparent news that the person cooking for them was nuts and they wouldn't be eating for a while.
Thankfully our friends know us well and brought a surplus of wine and the fella returned from the hunt for fresh basil in time to make a cheese plate so that people could snack and be pleasantly distracted as the endless cooking continued. The fella's fellow Mason is a bit of a wine snob himself and was nice enough to bring some really exciting bottles of Cotes du Rhone and a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.
The Santa Rita Reserva Sauvignon Blanc was my favorite. Some fruit on the nose, light bodied and a super delicious melon and mineral finish. It was pleasantly complex, not one of those New Zealand Sauvignons that are like drinking pure grape fruit juice (which I also love by the way but would not have fit in with this meal.)
The Domaine Oratoire St. Martin was a very basic Cotes du Rhone. Drinkable, light bodied with some unripened red berries early on the tongue, finishing with the typical French mineralistic tannins. Unfortunately the special bottle of Domaine de la Janasse from 2000 that he has been holding on to may have gone past it's prime. The nose was a little too dirty gym sock to be enjoyable and the wine was almost tasteless so the poor Cotes do Rhone was abandoned for the other bottles.
We also opened a bottle of non alcoholic cranberry and cherry spumante from door county for our pregnant guest. A nice gesture but I'm going to agree with her when she said it was like drinking cherries in a sewer. The taste was nice but it was hard to get past the icky smell. Kind of like a durian apparently.
An hour after anticipated we finally sat down to dinner. The fake pizza was yummy but overly oily and very much not worth all the effort, it would have been better just to steam all the vegetables together and add a bit of oil. The chicken dish however was a huge success and it was super hands off and easy. I would make it again but would probably add some sort of addition herb like oregano, rosemary, anything to give a little extra flavor.
Also included in this meal:
Vanilla Panna Cotta
Chicken in Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, cut finely
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine
3 ounces black or kalamata olives, halved and pits removed
4 roasted red peppers (I used can ones but you can certainly roast then yourself it you have the time)
4 chicken breast halves (will cook faster if butterflied and pounded thin)
If you're roasting your own red pepper heat the oven to 400, place peppers on cookie sheet and roast about 45 minutes until blackened all over. Transfer to a bag to cool, this will make the skins easier to remove later before chopping.
Heat the oil in a deep pan and cook onion about 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook about 2 minutes longer. Now add tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, and olives then simmer slowly for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and add water if sauce becomes too thick. Cut red peppers into bite sized pieces, stir into sauce with some black pepper. Add chicken pieces, then cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until meat is cooked through.
Garnish with fresh basil and serve in shallow pasta bowls with a good ladle of the sauce covering each chicken breast.
Original recipe from The Big GL Plus Diet Planner