I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Que Rico.

I'm going to Maryland tomorrow. (Holler!) But because I'm getting a ton of flack for not writing prodigiously, I offer you this while I'm gone. I get back Tuesday.

I studied abroad in Spain, junior year in college. As I was a dual Journalism/Spanish Major, studying abroad in Spain was sort of for screwing around, but it was also for getting fluent in Spanish. Which I became. And subsequently lost, but that's a different story for another time.

I lived in Sevilla with a dear, sweet woman named Maria Jesus Escobar Gil. And we got along like a house on fire. I adored her, and she adored me. Maria Jesus spent all of her time cleaning, cooking, and washing and ironing (and bleaching...) my clothes. And watching telenovelas. And talking to her bird, "Canario." We weren't much for names, in that house... I was "Chico," or "Herrmee" (usually, Chico, though, because she absolutely couldn't pronounce my name) she was "Senora," the bird was "Canario" (even though I later learned she named it Pavarotti). There was a guy that lived there too named Pepe, but he stayed in his bedroom, and then there was Jesus, Maria Jesus' grandson (of seventeen) who slept over every night in her room, presumably because he didn't trust Pepe. That's what she told me, anyway. Looking at it through the prism of time, the living situation was odd, and it was probably odd at the time as well, but I didn't really pay too much attention to the living arrangement, because I was focusing so hard on merely COMMUNICATING and understanding her thick Andalucian country accent.

Maria Jesus cooked. All the time. The first few days there were some doozies of gross things coming out of the kitchen, but we settled into things that I liked. And it turned out, I liked quite a lot. She made astounding albondigas, and espinacas con garbanzos, and sopa de ajo, and tortilla de papas. I got caldo con fideo and rosquitos every day and she made the most refreshing gazpacho, which we would drink on hot days...the list goes on.

But the dish that she made best was of such startling simplicity, that it sort of boggles the mind.

And here, in her honor, I hope, but possibly to her memory, is her chicken in garlic wine sauce, which I have adapted from her recipe which was made with only one breast:


1 lb chicken breast, breasts sliced thinly horizontally.

8 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped - if using smaller cloves, use more. You want a LOT of garlic.

1/3 cup (slightly more) extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cups dry white wine (sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio - NO CHARDONNAY or anything sweet or oaky)

2 or 3 generous pinches of coarse salt.

Spanish Rolls or Cuban Rolls or large sandwich rolls


Dump the oil into the bottom of a large skillet, sprinkle the garlic over the oil, and put the chicken breasts over the garlic and oil, in a single layer.

Sprinkle a very generous pinch of salt over the chicken, and set the flame to medium. Heat the pan slowly over medium, until bubbles just start to form around the garlic - you don't want the garlic to burn. Hold the heat at this point for about 30 seconds, taking care not to let the pan start sizzling.

Then, pour in the wine, all at once, and add another pinch of salt.

Raise the heat to high, and bring the pot to a boil. When the chicken is cooked through on one side, flip the chicken, and continue boiling down the pot.

Keep flipping the chicken in the boiling wine, through when the pan starts to sizzle and sing, and the wine has almost completely evaporated. The garlic should be white, and the pan should smell wonderful, and have a thick(er) yellow sauce in it.

Plate the chicken, sprinkling garlic over it, and pour the sauce over it.

Serve and use the rolls to soak up the sauce; if there are leftovers, split the rolls, dip the cut sides in the garlic sauce, and smoosh some garlic onto the bread, and make a sandwich with the chicken. Wrap the sandwich in plastic; the sandwich is best eaten on an afternoon bus ride home from Matalascanas beach.