After moving to the LA area, and during a dinner meeting with a client, I was introduced to the concept of ordering off menu. The client suggested we go to his usual Italian resturant. After he briefly looked at the menu, and apparently seeing nothing he wanted, he instructed the waiter to have his usual spicy chicken and penne rigate prepared. I asked if he would mind if I ordered the same, and it being approved I awaited the thrill of eating off menu.
The spicy chicken pasta was great. Although I do not have the restaurant’s recipe, I have prepared the dish many times, and think I have captured the gist of the meal while keeping it an easy pasta meal to make.
1 large half skinless, boneless chicken breast
2 cups penne rigate
1 – 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
1 – 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
1 Tbsp fresh basil chopped
1 tsp fresh oregano chopped
1/8 tsp dried red pepper flakes (or more depending on your idea of spicy)
1/2 white onion chopped and sauted
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup frozen green peas
Fry the chicken breast in 1/2 Tbsp olive oil until meat begins to take on a golden hue, remove chicken from heat and slice into bite size pieces (it is ok that chicken is not fully cooked inside as it will finish cooking in the sauce and in the process, release some great taste).
In a medium size pot place the tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic, red wine, dried red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil, add the bite sized chicken, and return to boil. Reduce heat to a strong simmer.
Saute’ the chopped onion in the pan used to fry the chicken (may need to add a little bit more olive oil). When done add onion to the pot with other ingredients. Keep sauce at simmer for at least 30 minutes.
While simmering the sauce, boil water and prepare the penne rigate per box directions.
When sauce and pasta are done, place the frozen peas in a strainer and pour the pasta and water into the strainer. The peas will cook in the hot water as the pasta drains.
Place pasta and some peas in each individual serving bowl or plate, and place a generous portion of sauce with chicken bites on each serving of pasta. Finish the plate with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
Don’t worry, unlike so many other venues, this blog will not be investigating the meaning of one’s have tiger blood, or discussing the reasons why one might claim to be a warlock. I will leave diagnosis of such issues to those trained in the sciences of the mind.
On the other hand, my wife thinks she has diagnosed a previously unkown subcategory of an illness, which, if confirmed will be named, Geographical biPolar Syndrome (GPS for short). It seems the little lady has been taking notes on some of my idiosyncrasies and has come up with her GPS theory.
I grew up in flyover country. When I was in the third grade I could walk downtown by myself to buy a soda or look around. I could ride my bike out into the country with ease. My buddies and I would walk around with BB guns shooting at birds (I have no recollection of actually hitting one) and not a single eyebrow would be raised. The only organized youth sport was baseball, and my buddies and I would ride our bikes to practice. It was a very simple existence.
Now, as you know from prior AND STUFF editions, we live in SoCal; actually, a beach town, which my eldest son describes as a “bubble” in LA. It is about as tranquil as you will get in this neck of the woods. But still, one does not let young children out of sight, and most certainly a youngster, even in high school, would not likely be allowed to venture into the “city” unaccompanied.
I remember taking my youngest son, when he was about a third grader, to a professional basketball game in the “city”. After we left the arena, and were walking toward the parking lot, we passed through a gauntlet of people asking for change (money, not political). After holding my hand even tighter, my son said, “Daddy I don’t like this village”. Agreed, it was time to get back to the bubble.
The insidious nature of GPS is that my little boy, who has never lived in flyover country gets it naturally, while I on the other hand am usually in denial as I love my new hometown. Where else can you surf in the morning, and then drive to a ski resort or golf in the desert by late afternoon. We have joked about doing a one day trifecta consisting of skiing in Big Bear, driving to San Diego to surf, and then going over the border to Baja, Mexico for an evening of lobster and margaritas.
But, all the masking provided by the near endless beauty and opportunities of my new home at times are insufficient. There are times when the GPS masking fails. The GPS usually comes to the surface on the weekend when those not accustomed to driving in formation venture out in their cars and inch their way down the road, slowing my ingress and egress to Trader Joes for groceries. Or, after having taken the last parking spot, the gathered throng mill around creating a maze through which my wife and I must weave our way as we stroll the sidewalk. It’s at times like those when I begin talking about the need for a bunker, the virtue of flyover country, and how my wife would really love the simple life there.
Such GPS breakdowns are rare, and the cure my wife developed for me is swift. As we weave through the swelling crowds that block my every path, and my muttering about bunkers and flyover country becomes more agitated, my wife calmly says to me, “be sure to write Honey”. Ah yes, now I remember, its not just the beauty of the beach, desert, and mountains that make SoCal my home. GPS can be controlled through proper treatment!
I cannot be the only person suffering from GPS. While enjoying your chicken penne rigate arrabiata why not have an informal group session and see who has the funniest GPS issue.
Good Eating and Table Talk,