Edward and Elinor both have Lyme disease right now, and I am worried about them rattling around in that big house in a fever, with the slippery rugs and treacherous driveway, the bills with too small type and the predatory phone phishers. When he is feeling okay, and that is most of the time, Edward takes good care of my mother. A few weeks ago when he was in Italy with my sister Lisa, I cared for Elinor and found Edward had put up an insane amount of food for her. I mean, she weighs like 90 pounds and look what he prepared for the seven days he was gone…
Turned out she wanted to go out to eat, or was in the city with us, but I warmed up one of these dinners for her that is so typical of Edward’s cooking: a one pot dinner that includes both a protein and a seasonal vegetable, chicken with peas (recipe below). I suppose now that he is feeling lousy, they will be eating more food from this stash. I hope so, though Edward is saying he wants to go to Arthur Avenue tomorrow morning. I can’t dissuade him since it is his joy to visit with the shopkeepers there, but I am afraid it will wear him out. Either way, I’ll be going to Katonah tomorrow afternoon, to roll up rugs and listen to the messages on their answering machine and find lost eye glasses. And with a bit of a sinking heart, I am thinking maybe it is time for me to cook for them, too. Or at least defrost something.
Chicken with Peas and Mint
The shell peas and mint are still in! This is adapted from a recipe in my dad’s first book, Italian Family Cooking. This dish is typical of his cooking: one pot, a vegetable and a protein, simple and seasonal. Sometimes I don’t bother with the baking stage of this dish, but simply finish it on top of the stove, in which case I sometimes needs to keep the dish wet with a little chicken stock or water. Edward often brines the chicken first which keeps it moist, in which case you won’t need to add much salt during cooking (see Note for brining instructions).
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 4-pound chicken, cut into serving pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 3-inch piece fresh rosemary
1 ½ cups pearl onions
½ cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1 ½ cups fresh peas
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a large ovenproof skillet with a fitted cover, heat the oil over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown it for about 5 minutes, then add the salt and pepper and rosemary. Continue cooking until the chicken browns, turning often, about 15 minutes. Add the onions and cook them until they turn translucent, about 5 minutes. They will become translucent. Pour off the chicken fat if lots has accumulated (but leave a few tablespoons in for flavor). Add the wine and thyme. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, then uncover and cook until the wine has mostly evaporated.
Meanwhile, place the peas in a small saucepan and cover with water and bring to a gentle boil over a medium heat. Drain the peas and add to the chicken, along with the butter and mint. Cover and place in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes until the peas are tender and the chicken reaches an inner temperature of 165F.
Check the seasoning and serve.
Note: To brine chicken, pour 1 quart of water in a large bowl and add 1 tablespoon salt. Stir to combine. Add the chicken and let it soak in the fridge for 1 hour. Rinse, and then place the chicken in a bowl of cold unsalted water and let rest for about 30 minutes. This allows for the salt to distribute evenly throughout the meat. Drain and dry the chicken.