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The Benefits of Hoarding

Sometimes I have trouble throwing things away. My grandmother once scolded me for throwing away some used tin foil she had kept since The Great Depression. Consequently, my house has little piles of things I feel guilty about throwing away in almost every cobwebby corner. Many of the piles have something to do with cooking. I need to clean out most of these corners. This once, however, I was really, really glad that I hadn’t.

In the midst of one of those stacks was an old Bon Appétit magazine. It was the September 1995 issue, and yes, I still have it, along with almost every other issue for the last 15 years. The cover picture (as often happens with my favorite cooking magazines) made my mouth water. I recognized this recipe. I made it within the first week of receiving the issue back in the days when I had time to read an entire magazine and time to test out some of the recipes on my friends. I STILL remember how much I loved this recipe, as is evidenced by the splatters, stains, and stickiness of page 16.

Bon Appétit printed this fusion recipe in their R.S.V.P. section, which is the portion of the magazine where they print recipes requested from restaurants all over the world. The recipe came from a restaurant all the way around the world and back – Tucson, Arizona. Presidio Grill to be exact. It combines pasta with chicken, garlic, basil, poblano chilies, and prosciutto. The richness, spiciness, and beautiful coloring of this dish deserve a bold red wine – a fusion of sorts to match the fusion of flavors in the pasta dish.

When I spouted off the list of ingredients to winemaker Bill Peper, he immediately thought of one of his new wines that he hopes to call “Mammoth Red.” Bill is one of the founders of the soon-to-be winery Valley Mills Vineyards Winery, right here in Central Texas. Among other yummy-sounding wines, he is developing this exciting five-varietal blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lenoir, Tinta Cão, and Tempranillo. Sounds rich. Bill said he will bring a drop of it by Gourmet Gallery. In the mean time, keep your eyes, ears, and taste buds open to learn about the Valley Mills Vineyards Winery. I know I’m excited about it. If you have enough time, maybe you can pair it with this recipe, too.

Linguine with Chicken, Garlic and Basil
From Bon Appétit, September 1995

¼ c plus 1 T olive oil
¼ c minced garlic

¾ lb linguine (A homemade pasta from one of Gourmet Gallery’s pasta making classes would be ideal.)

1 ½ lb skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
2 poblano chilies, seeded, cut into matchstick-size strips
3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
½ c thinly sliced fresh basil
4 oz prosciutto, chopped
2 T (1/4 stick) butter

1 c freshly-grated parmesan cheese

Heat ¼ cup oil in heavy small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until light golden brown, about six minutes. Strain oil into glass measuring cup; reserve garlic. Add enough oil to measuring cup to measure ¼ cup. Set aside.

Cook linguine in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bit, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat reserved oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and sauté five minutes.

Add poblanos and sauté two minutes. Add tomatoes, ¼ c basil, prosciutto, and 2 T cooked garlic and sauté until chicken is cooked through, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add butter and stir just until melted.

Drain linguine and place in large bowl. Add chicken mixture and 1/2 c parmesan; toss to coat. Season with salt and freshly-ground black or pink pepper (depending on how spicy you want it). Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 c basil and 2 T cooked garlic. Serve with remaining Parmesan.

Serve with salad greens with a mild vinaigrette sweetened slightly with some local honey (no herbs so you don’t detract from the full flavors of the pasta) and a bit of crusty bread. While you are enjoying this tasty recipe and your second glass of Mammoth Red, look around you to see what treasure you might discover in the dark, cobwebbed corners of your home. For once you might be glad that you haven’t cleaned for awhile. My grandmother would be proud.

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