Since my spat with Ina Garten, I have taken a little break from her and I started perusing other cooking shows, you know playing the field a little bit. While channel surfing, I was teased by a little show called Lidia’s Italy on the PBS Create channel. I was quite surprised to know that there are actual shows on PBS other than my favorite show Sesame Street , that Reading Rainbow show with Geordi from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Josh’s favorite, Martha’s Sewing Room. What’s even more amazing; you don’t have to sit through the annoying telethon!
Lidia’s Italy is show about Lidia Bastianich – a successful restaurateur who has locations in New York, Pittsburgh and other big cities. Even though Josh thinks she looks like a mean grandmother with a comb over (bless her heart), this little lady knows her Italian food. I have tried several of her recipes – such as her basic marinara and chicken marsala – but this most recent one I tried is one of those that makes you feel good inside. Lidia made a dish that was in the matalotta-style (stewed in tomatoes) using grouper. Well, I used chicken…mostly because Ray would die (fish allergy – so he says).
“S” is for Scaloppini
For this recipe, to ensure that the meat cooks evenly we will use the scaloppini technique. “But I thought scaloppini was a dish?” When you see scaloppini on a menu, the word describes how the meat is prepared not the actual recipe. So how do we do it? There are two ways:
- Take a chicken breast (veal, boneless pork, etc.) and place it between two pieces of plastic wrap (or if you hate the plastic wrap, like Josh does, use a Ziploc bag). Using a meat tenderizer, rolling pin or a glass, pound the chicken flat until it is ½ inch thick. Ta-Dah!
- Lay a chicken breast flat on your cutting board; place your hand (non-knife holding hand) flat on the breast. Using your knife, starting in the thickest part of the breast and cut horizontally (parallel to the cutting board) through the breast. Take your time and watch those fingers! Once complete you should have two pieces about the same thickness.
“R” is for Recipe
2 boneless chicken breasts – scaloppini
1 medium onion sliced in half-moons
1 cup celery, diced
½ cup cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup Sicilian olives, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons capers
1 16 oz can whole Roma tomatoes – crush with your hand
½ teaspoon peperoncino (crushed red pepper)
All-purpose flour, for dredging
To begin, preheat your sauté pan on medium high heat. Put a couple of tablespoons of flour on a plate and dredge (coat) your chicken breasts. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the sauté pan. Remove excess flour from the chicken and add to sauté pan. Cook for 3 minutes on each side. Remove chicken and place to the side. Add another tablespoon to oil to the pan and add the onions. Sprinkle with kosher salt and cook for 3 minutes until translucent. Add celery. Cook an additional three minutes. Add capers and olives; sauté’ additional two minutes. Add tomatoes and peperoncino. Bring to a simmer and add chicken back to the pan. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. After simmering – taste for seasoning. Optional: Add 4 or 5 torn fresh basil leaves or ½ teaspoons dried oregano. Serve over pasta or with polenta.
“B” is for Break
So many of you may be thinking that I am cheating on my culinary crush, Ina G., but you are wrong. I’m just taking a little break. You’ve heard the saying, “If you really love something, release it. If it was meant to be, it will come back.” Well, Ina is coming back – Back to Basics, that is. So until then, I will continue my culinary fling with Lidia. We will cook together, share stories and discuss what wig she needs to buy. 😉
Josh and I got our chef jackets with logo and all. They look quite spiffy. Pics will be coming soon!