Tag Archives: chicken pasta

Pot Luck: Short Ribs with Sweet Potato Puree & Braised Saffron Chicken Pasta

15 Aug

Penelope and Sadie politely salivate

Every time I cook, the ghosts of my grandmothers are looking over my shoulder, inspecting my work.

One – my father’s mother, a city girl – is fingering a rosary, fretting that I won’t have time to make everything, that my knife cuts aren’t as precise as they should be, quietly giving me plattering and presentation advice and politely inquiring about, when, exactly, I intended to mix her a martini.

The other – my mother’s mother, a country girl – is urging me to stop being such an obsessive nut, that pie crust is for baking and eating not plaiting and braiding, remonstrating with me for spending $16 on a pound of meat, reminding me to leave the kitchen neater than I found it, and quietly asking me if I have a drinking problem when I sneak a sip of wine from the cup destined for the pan.

I’m big city and back woods; in my head, I carry a rolodex of recipes from the alleys and sidestreets of Southside Chicago and the byways and brooks of Indiana. Most of my cooking is based on classic American recipes I learned, if not from them, then from my parents, who learned from them. And the occasional leap toward culinary transcendence, courtesy of the endless cooking classes I’ve taken.

The gap, the tension, that exists between the two poles of our reality and our desires, our duties and our dreams, that gaping maw is the place where luck and gifts live.

As I go through life cooking up various plots and pots, I listen for my grandmothers, I listen for my gut. I try to find a place in the rumbling racket for my own beat; when I hear it, I jump in and crank up the fire.

These recipes are adaptations of standard dishes most American families make — braised meat, creamy noodles — with a few fancy tweaks. Dig in below!

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