WWhen I buy chicken, I usually buy the whole bird, because having a jellied broth hidden in the freezer gives me the feeling that everything is as it should be. The legs and thighs are rich in flavor and suitable for slower cooking, but for today’s recipe, the breasts come to life: flattened and tender with a light hit, deep-fried in a skillet, and enough for four. Save the skin and crisp it up in a skillet for a delicious benefit.
Chicken paillard with capers, sage and brown butter spaghetti
The marinade here is good, but it’s the absurdly delicious combination of brown butter, crunchy sage, and capers that adds weight to the dish.
Homework 20 minutes
Marinate 2 hours +
Cook 40 min
It serves 4
2 large free-range chicken breasts
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 cloves of garlic, bare
1 lemon, peel and cut into strips, then squeeze halfway and cut the rest into wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
150g butter, cut into cubes
18 sage leaves
3 tablespoons baby capers
Freshly grated Parmesan
Cut the chicken breasts in half by placing the palm of your hand on top, slicing the meat horizontally and opening it like a book. Place the chicken between two pieces of parchment paper, pat gently until it is about ½ cm thick, then transfer to a bowl. Coarsely chop the thyme and garlic and rub over the chicken. Add the lemon peel and olive oil and leave to marinate in the fridge, ideally for a few hours.
When you’re ready to eat, cook the pasta in a saucepan of boiling salted water until it still has a chalky bite, a touch before al dente. Drain, reserving a cup of the cooking water, then rinse the pasta under cold water for a minute to prevent sticking.
Now make the brown butter. Melt the butter in a small, preferably light-colored skillet over medium heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for five to eight minutes, or until it begins to brown and frothy. Keep turning the pan for a few more minutes, until you can see the solids turn a deep caramel color. Quickly add the lemon juice, sage, and capers, stir, and remove from heat.
Heat a skillet or oven rack and once it is hot, shake the marinade from the chicken and lightly season the meat. Grill for a minute or two on each side until charcoal marks appear, then transfer to a hot plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil or another plate.
Return pasta skillet to medium-high heat and pour in the browned butter and marinade. Simmer for a few minutes to cook the garlic, then add the pasta with half the water reserved for the pasta. Simmer for an additional three to four minutes, stirring, until the pasta has absorbed the butter and the sauce is delicious and shiny (add more water if it looks dry and cook for another minute). Check the seasoning, then serve in hot bowls with the chicken on top and lots of Parmesan, parsley, and lemon wedges.
And for the rest of the week …
The spicy nutty spaghetti is also delicious with herb-laden pork meatballs, or meatless with grilled celeriac steaks or roasted cauliflower florets.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism