Insulated Jar & Sides #11

Grapes, chicken in a white wine-marmalade sauce (from Quick Cooking for Two), toasted pastina pilaf (recipe below), and orange slices.

This chicken is a huge improvement over the last marmalade chicken recipe I tried. I think the white wine is important but the key is probably the flouring of the chicken before you brown it; that seems to get more of the sauce to cling to the chicken. It's lovely and I'll be making it again.

As for the toasted pastina pilaf, I made a version of this earlier but wanted to tweak it. Originally I found a version of this on the back of a package of pasta, but it didn't have all the veggies and herbs I wanted in it. Now it does. So now, without further adieu, I am ready to share it. Here's a close up so you can see the veggies in it. It might be a good recipe for you if you're cooking for someone--yourself or someone else--who isn't really much of a veggie person, because the veggies are cut so small one doesn't get a mouthful of veggies. It's inexpensive, especially if you have a window herb garden going. I mean, seriously cheap here. You could easily see this in the Good and Cheap book. It's also a rather unusual way to cook pasta, and the results are fantastic. I used tiny stars for this but you could also use any other tiny shape you can get. Just make sure it really is tiny.

Toasted Pastina Pilaf
Serves: Roughly 3-4

1 small carrot
1/2 medium onion
1 rib celery
1/4 cup butter
6 oz. uncooked pastina
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
The leaves from 1 spring of thyme (or use a pinch of dried thyme--it'll be fine)
Salt and pepper to taste (about 1/8 teaspoon of each, or leave it out if your chicken broth is already seasoned enough, as mine was)

Chop the vegetables very finely, then process in a food processor. You want them to be cut as small as possible without making a raw vegetable puree or something. You're aiming to get them the same size or smaller than your pasta shapes.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add vegetables and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned. Add pasta and stir well to coat with butter and vegetable mixture. Cook and stir until the pasta is lightly browned.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, then cover and cook about 5 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through. If the liquid isn't all absorbed by then it will soak it up while it cools. Under no circumstances should you drain this! Also, nothing horrible will happen if you stir it every so often while it simmers but there is no need to stir it after the water has come to a boil and you've given it a good stir. So while this cooks you can go off and cut up an orange or something.

If you're packing this for lunch, make sure you pack it hot. It works best in an insulated jar. It'll be fine at room temperature so long as you've started with it warm. Leftovers are great for this in my opinion but if you pull it out of the fridge it needs to be reheated to get the butter melted before you pack it. The butter won't re-solidify if it cools to room temperature but it also won't melt if it just warm to room temperature, if that makes sense.


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