Simple Pasta Sunday – Anchovy Goodness

I say Anchovy, you say Bleccch.

That’s just how it goes, and it’s unfortunate. I fully understand – my first experience with the feeder fish came on pizza, sort of as a dare, and all I remember is that its flavor enveloped (and ruined) the entire pie. It wasn’t until I lived in Seattle and had the Cauliflower Anchovy spread at Lola that I began to realize the potential of this boldly-favored, powerful little fish.

Encountering them again in Italy and at Italian restaurants in the states, served either on crusty bread, or solo, usually with parsley, served to further grow my respect for the fish, and their umami-packed flavor. And realizing that anchovies form the base of the traditional Caesar salad dressing proves that anchovies are a flavor-enhancement more than anything, and truly worthy of a Yessss rather than a Bleccch.

In this recipe, inspired by the wonderful handmade linguine I encountered at the Studio City Farmers Market this weekend, I hope to show that anchovies are not only accessible, but a crucial part of a dish that is simple, delicious, and perfect for a summer afternoon – even for a two-year old.

I’ve condensed the video (thank you Snapchat) I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients

  • linguine, 8-12 oz.
  • EVOO
  • garlic, 4 cloves, slivered
  • anchovies, 6-8 filets
  • spinach, two handfuls
  • fresh parmesano reggiano
  • lemon, juice of one half, reserving other half

Directions

  • boil a huge pot of water, adding a ton of salt. The water should taste like ocean.
  • heat a large pan to medium, adding a healthy amount of EVOO, until the oil is glistening.
  • add the garlic, and once that starts to crisp (but not brown), add the anchovy and mash until its a paste.
  • put the pasta in the boiling water and cook as per directions (generally two minutes for handmade, 8-12 for store bought).
  • add spinach to the pan and stir until wilted, coating with the anchovy/garlic mixture.
  • once pasta is cooked properly, add it directly from pot into the pan, stirring until each noodle is coated. there is no need to drain prior to doing this, the excess water helps thin out the mixture and makes more for a saucy approach.
  • I like to add a healthy squeeze of lemon at this point, and again prior to serving.
  • grate parmesan on top, serve, and picture yourself looking out on to the Adriatic Sea.

Knee shakin’ chicken thighs

The humble chicken thigh was overlooked in my early culinary adventures.

Chicken wings were my go-to since I was old enough to appreciate ranch, and became even more succulent as I acquired the taste for bleu cheese. Chicken breasts were obvious and “what Mom used to make,” plain, straight-forward and always reliable (read: boring). And legs/drumsticks were a go-to for any grill session. As I became adventurous, even the liver was incredible – pâté was a revelation as I hit 30 years old and is still unique & funky when I imbibe. The oyster was a recent discovery when I started grabbing those grocery store rotisserie beasts to-go; I’d immediately rip the breast flesh open to find that bite-sized delicacy on each bird. But the thigh. . .well, it was basically exposed to me when my wife one day bought thighs inadvertently and produced a stunning maple syrup/mustard hybrid. The tender, meaty chicken was so delicious that my eyes were opened anew and I was agog for this once-forsaken chicken part.

Now, thighs are my preferred choice. But always wanting to keep my recipes sui generis in our household, I uncovered this beauty of a recipe from SkinnyTaste, which is quite ironic – because it tastes rich, creamy and memorable. It’s technically French (poulet au vinaigre), but it’s not technique-heavy. And as usual, I altered it to kick up the spice and the sweetness – and I added mushrooms. It’s a two-pan meal, and it takes about 30 minutes all-in. Super, super easy for a family, a couple, or even a bachelor(ette?) that doesn’t mind a few (awesome) leftover meals. Enjoy.

tomatocreamchicken

Ingredients

  • 1 lb., chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
  • salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • brown sugar
  • cayenne pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • approx. 2 cups, sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 tbsp mexican crema
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

Directions

  • season chicken liberally with salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, brown sugar.
  • in a dutch oven, combine vinegar, honey, 3/4 cup chicken broth and tomato paste. Boil about 5 minutes until it reduces into a viscous paste and remove from heat.
  • while sauce is reducing, heat a large skillet and melt butter over medium-low heat and add chicken.
  • cook on both sides, until brown, about 8-10 minutes.
  • remove chicken & place directly into the tomato sauce.
  • add the shallots and garlic to the skillet and cook on medium until soft, about 4 minutes.
  • add the mushrooms and EVOO and cook down for another minute.
  • pour contents of skillet into the dutch oven with the chicken, add the wine, remaining broth and a sprinkle more of salt and pepper.
  • cover and simmer for about 20 – 30 minutes, depending on desired tenderness (thighs don’t tend to overcook; they just get more tender).
  • remove the chicken, add mexican crema and stir into the sauce.
  • return chicken to dutch oven.
  • add fresh parsley.
  • be amazed that you can make an awesome French dish in less time it would take you to watch Chopped.

Hot Tomato Oil

See that red ‘sauce’ in the background there? With the two pieces of bread flanking the plate? That’s hot tomato oil. Despite my affinity for halibut and pasta (the entrée in the foreground), the oil was the star of the show. UnBElievable. And to think, I was inspired by the walking hilarity that is Guy Fieri & his tough-to-not-watch show, Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. His feature on Pastabilities included this luscious, just begging-to-be-dipped sauce that people were lapping up at the Syracuse venue. I decided to try to recreate with a few changes and it was honestly amazing. I HIGHLY suggest you give it a shot.

halibutpastatomatosauce

Ingredients

  • San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 10 cloves garlic, rough chopped
  • 2 serrano peppers, diced
  • 2 cups, EVOO
  • 2 tbsp, sriracha
  • 2 tbsp, brown sugar
  • salt, to taste

Directions

  • heat oil in pot on medium heat
  • once bubbling even slightly, add garlic, shallots, serranos
  • boil for about five minutes, or until caramelized
  • separately, begin heating tomatoes in separate pot
  • drain – and save – oil, separating solids
  • deposit solids into tomato mixture, stir thoroughly
  • add sriracha & brown sugar to tomato mixture
  • sautée tomato mixture for ten minutes
  • add oil back into tomato mixture, remove from heat
  • serve with crusty bread (or drink with a straw, jk – kind of)
  • YUM!