How fitting I learned of Marcella Hazan's death on Facebook--my first interaction with her was a whine after making her lasagne bolognese--couldn't I please skip the step of par-boiling the noodles? She was the first comment:
NO! You are doing so well, why backslide?
I practically did back flips--I bragged, I made people go read her comment (more than the blog)..then I went and friended her on Facebook, where I followed her over the next three years. Just last week she invited people to weigh in on the merits of homemade "extruded" pasta (think...penne and rigatoni ...tubular stuff...). She didn't like homemade versions and preferred to get top quality dried--(not noodles, mind you: homemade all the way).
I worked my way through other recipes of hers..they all stressed simple methods, great food. Don't overdo things. (I mean, LOOK at that lasagne. Noodles, sauce..parmesan. And it's awesome.)
Tonight, I knew I wanted simplicity and I knew I wanted it to be from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. This dish, fricassee chicken with lemon and egg, Marches style, was it. The ingredients list is short: butter, onion, chicken, stock, egg yolk, lemon juice. The method--melt the butter, add onion to skillet and cook until golden. Add chicken, seasoned with salt and peper, to skillet. Brown the chicken very well. Remove chicken breasts, leave thighs and legs in skillet. Add stock to skillet, cover skillet (lid ajar) and let simmer about 40 minutes. Uncover, return chicken breasts to skillet, and cook, simmering at least 10 minutes, then turn heat up some, and continue cooking, turning chicken from time to time, until sauce is almost gone. Remove pan from heat. Whisk yolks (2) and lemon juice (1/4 cup, about 2 lemons) together, then stir into sauce in skillet, stirring to combine and coat chicken (the yolks cook and thicken with the heat)..
The end result is chicken that was so tender, it almost just fell apart and it was full of flavor. This is a classic example of simple Italian cooking at its best. At Marcella's best. Tonight's dinner was for you, Marcella.
Here's the recipe from a group that cooked its way through the entire book. Good idea, folks.