Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Chicken and Spaghetti with lemon-wasabi "aioli" (mayo)

My wife has learned that when she texts me at night and asks what is for dinner, my response will often be a simple one word reply: stuff. Stuff generally means that I have no idea, I'm making it up as I go along, and I'm probably making it right now and can't respond. On occasion I am done cooking but too exhausted to explain in detail.

So, dinner last night was "stuff." and delicious stuff it was.

Put up a large pot of water to boil.

Into a large flat pan, I put two chicken quarters- leg and thigh together. This was heated on a medium heat for a while, until both top and bottom were partially cooked, and much of the fat had rendered out. I then added water and a fair amount of lemon juice, covering the pan. Does the lemon juice do anything? Truthfully, I don't know. It certain,y can't be tasted, but the chicken tends to be more tender. I suspect that the acid helps to tenderize the meat, but I might be completely making this up. Whatever the case, continue to cook on a medium heat, flipping occasionally and adding water and lemon juice as needed.

Meanwhile, chop four medium sized celery stalks- not all the way on the outside of the bunch, nor in the core. Flavorful but tender. Before chopping,slice them through lengthwise. This allows the celery to lay flat while being chopped, and gives you smaller and more delicate pieces. Put into a large mixing bowl and put aside. Chop a small Spanish onion into small pieces and add to the celery. I wanted a little bit more green, so I also chopped the heart of some romaine lettuce and added this as well to the celery. Stick the bowl in the refrigerator until ready to use.

By this point, hopefully, the pot of water should be boiling. Dump in a box of spaghetti and crush it down to cook as normal.

Take a half to whole teaspoon of wasabi powder and combine with a few tablespoons of water. Set aside for a few minutes to allow the flavor to develope. Repeat with chinese mustard powder.

In another mixing bowl, combine two heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise, a squirt of lemon juice, wasabi, chinese mustard, a pinch of black pepper, a pinch of dill. After adding each ingredient, whisk until well combined. Taste and adjust as needed. It should be fairly liquidy and flow readily. You should have the flavor of the wasabi without the heat, acidity from the lemon, creaminess from the mayo, and all the flavors should be pretty harmonic. This is your "aioli" which I only call because it is easier to say than lemon wasabi mayo. stick this bowl into the refrigerator until ready to use.

The spaghetti should be done by now. Pour into colander to strain, and wash with cold water. Don't be afraid of using too much cold water. Dig in there with your hands and mix the spaghetti up, making sure there are no hotspots- mayonnaise doesn't play friendly with hot pasta. Once the spaghetti is cold- and I mean use the coldest water you can get from your sink- strain thoroughly and add to the bowl with the celery, onion, and romaine. Toss to mix the ingredients together. Pour the aioli over the spaghetti. Scrape some but not every speck of the aioli from the sides. Toss the aioli and spaghetti together until well combined (the spaghetti should have just a very thin coating of aioli, nothing too goopy) then put the bowl in the refrigerator.

By this time, the chicken should be done. Remove the chicken pieces to a cutting board. Remove any skin or fat and toss away. Cut away small chunks of the chicken and toss into the bowl with the aioli remnants. Take your time and get as much meat as you can. Once you are done, throw out the carcasses.

If you have taken your time and been thorough, the chicken will have cooled rapidly to warm at best if not room temperature- the high degree of moisture in a cool kitchen will drop the temperature like a stone. Toss the chicken in the bowl, allowing the chicken to get the last of the aioli off the sides of the bowl and getting an extremely thin coating. If you like, this can be served immediately or can go in the refridgerator for a half hour or an hour. Serve the chicken atop the spaghetti when ready to serve.

This was really something I threw together and ended up being really delighted. I wanted something both cool and refreshing, delicate in flavor. In the spring and summer, this would be something really nice to make, and I am very pleased about how well it turned out.

So, there's my pasta recipe.


Tavie said...

This looks like a wonderful spring/summer dinner. Will definitely be making this.

Barb said...

Wow, that sounds yum! I'll have to try making it soon.

Broklynite said...

The chinese mustard is optional- I used it because I only had a teeny amount of wasabi and I wanted a delicate kick. If you have a reasonable amount of wasabi, you can add a little more. To my surprise, the small amount of wasabi that I had was enough to give the flavor without the heat.