Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Its just another Wednesday evening.  Work went fine.  Pretty easy livin'.  The most daunting thought that lingers is simply what to have for dinner.  As a perfectionist in some striking ways, she relishes in the fantastical thoughts where she creates a masterpiece to serve each night.  And truth be told, mostly she does this with ease and enjoyment.  Still...none of this answers the question: what will she have for dinner tonight?

The chicken thighs were taken out of the fridge early that morning in anticipation of 'something' for dinner.  At around 6pm when she realized nourishment was going to be a necessity for herself and her family, a light bulb glowed above her head.  BRACIOLE (pronounced bra-sh-Ole) is an Italian American dish that originated from Sicily, Italy.  The concept is the same:  thin pieces of meat layered with a mixture of cheeses, spices, bread crumbs, prosciutto, pine nuts, well, whatever it is you fancy you can add in yourself.

So there it was: bracciole, that's what she would have for dinner.  Her childhood memories of bracciole are quite nostalgic and at the same time different from what she was about to embark on this evening.  And here she took a brief pause to remember the past.  Growing up, her family made braciole with beef and a light stuffing mixture of grating cheese, herbs and spices, and the few with raisins too.  They were rolled up, tied with thread, and cooked in the sauce.

Tonight's dinner is a twist on the old way...

serving size 6

1-1.5 pounds of chicken thighs, boneless
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/4 cup grating cheese
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
1 t parsley
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t basil
1/4 t salt
dashes of pepper
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 eggs, beaten well
1/4 olive oil
1 c cooked spinach, chopped

1 lb. spaghetti, boiled as per package instructions, dash of salt added to water
2 cups tomato sauce

To begin gently lay the thighs out and place them between two sheets of wax paper.  Then thin out.  She started by rolling with a rolling pin but when that proved challenging, she used the end of a rolling pin as a mallet and gently but with strength, thinned the chicken.  Lay on plate, set aside.

Mario Batali stuffed chicken legs braciole di pollo

Picture compliments of Mario Batali stuffed chicken legs braciole di pollo.
Cook the spinach and preheat the oven to 450.

Then to the mixture.  Its a stuffing, find your own flavor.  Here's what she did.  She mixed the bread crumbs with the finely grated cheeses.  Then the spices were added and the mixture tossed to blend well.  Next the crushed garlic and then the eggs.  She ended with a few heavy splashes of olive oil, for taste, moisture, health, and vitality!  Lastly the spinach was blended in well.

The mixture gets layered on top of each piece of chicken.  It should be about 1 cm deep and pushed in gently to create a unified bond to itself and the chicken.  She covered each piece of chicken with the mixture and then individually rolled each up, spiraling the chicken and the stuffing, creating a delectable union of tastes and a visually stimulating sacred spiral.  Each was tied with two pieces of twine, knotted for security.  A few pieces of chicken had broken off during the meat thinning debacle and now she used those strays to patch up areas on her braciole that needed covering.

A lightly oiled pan cooks these nicely.  They were laid in and then the extra mixture was used to top them.  This time a thin light stream of olive was dashed twice over of each braciole.

She baked them for 38 minutes.  Once in, the meal felt quite easy and was quickly unfolding into effortless success.  

 Last would be to boil pasta water and cook the spaghetti.

With a fire in the woodstove and her daughter next to her doing her school work, this woman could revel in more peacefaul, fulfilling moments of her life. She curled up in the papasson chair and jumped into her current love affair, a book she got for Christmas, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides.  Braciole, just the sound of it seems complicated and time consuming and wonderful all in one breath.  But alas, things aren't always what the seem.

The 20 minutes of reading, the quick dinner, it all seemed so perfect.

But wait...

Let's finish this recipe.

She let the chicken bracciole sit for a few minutes, then placed them on a plate and left the hot baking dish on the stove top.  She mixed the 2 cups of sauce into the pan to heat it up.  Then the spaghetti was thrown in and mixed.  Lastly the chicken braciole were sliced and laid on top of the spaghetti covering the dish with their sprials, and offering an image and contemplative idea about creation and growth, as spirals symbolize, and the comfort of food as the palate was revered and satisfied.

And the leftovers the next day....divine. In the end, another masterful meal was created as art.

1 comment:

  1. I love a good story with a happy ending. Great post and I will make this tonight!