By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3
I do an awful lot of driving between the two restaurants, the Marlin Club and UMES in Princess Anne. I decided to get rid of my big redneck rig and downsize to a Toyota Tacoma and thank goodness that I did. It gets twice the mileage, which is a godsend at this point.
For me, the worst part of driving this much is that I just sit… and think… and think. And, the way that my brain works, that can be a dangerous thing. It is so easy for me to live inside my head a little too long, and, boy, it’s safe to say that I’m more than a little nuts. With that being said, I constantly reference my favorite quote from Charles Bukowski, that radical maniac from the days of yore, as he wrote, “Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”
Even the music is starting to get a little stale, despite the fact that I have thousands of songs in my playlist. I can’t believe that I’m about to say this, but I may be at an age when audio books might be a thing. I shudder to think.
When my father passed in 1995, I took a semester off college and worked with my mother doing traveling jewelry shows. We went as far west as Tucson, and as far south as Dallas and New Orleans. On Bourbon Street, I took my own mother into a gentlemen’s club for the first time in her sixty-nine years. She was curious so I though what the hell? We spent all of three minutes in there (the bouncer thought it was funny and let us in for free). Needless to say, I do believe that this was a one-and-done for the old girl. She made it to 87 years of age, but I’m pretty sure she never set foot in another club like that.
But I digress. The point of that story was that we drove thousands of miles and she had a massive collection of books on tape. And that’s all we listened to. I felt like my ears were bleeding, and here I am thinking that audio books may find their way into my life again. I’m getting old and I may as well add those to my AARP magazine collection. It’s tragic, but the alternative to aging, the finality to which none of us are immune, is something I’d like to wait as long as I can to experience.
There are certainly days when my mind goes blank and I stare into the lane ahead of me and the trip goes much faster, and it is usually in moments like these that I get cravings for random dishes. And I usually get these cravings when I am nowhere near a restaurant that serves it. One day, I’ll get a hankering for prime rib, and the next day I’m yearning Sello’s Fiocchi alla Vodka and that sausage and broccolini appetizer.
Today, though, I had an insatiable craving for Chicken Picatta. I was on my way to school and I called the Italian restaurant in town, but they only serve it as a random special, so I was out of luck. Alas, I had to resort to what most old chefs hate more than anything — cooking my own meal. Now you may say that this is crazy talk, but the adage that the cobbler’s children have no shoes is certainly true with overworked chefs and cooks. My favorite meal is anything I don’t have to cook.
Alas, I had to cook this myself, and honestly it was nice to go through the process as I haven’t cooked this in a good while. It was delicious, and I was content. I just wonder what craving I’ll get today in my collective three-hour drive.
1 stick unsalted irish butter
Juice of 2 lemons
4 garlic cloves
2# Chicken breast, sliced thin
1 c. AP Flour
1 tsp. Trimix seasoning
Oil for sauteeing, as needed
1 c. White wine
1 c. Chicken stock
1/2 c. Heavy cream (optional)
2 Tbsp. Capers
Parsley, minced for garnish
- Melt the butter on low heat.
- Place the melted butter, garlic and lemon juice in a cup and puree together with a stick blender.
- On a plate, mix together the flour and trimix.
- Place the chicken on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap.
- Using a mallet or tenderizer hammer, smack it down to make it tender
- Heat a saute pan and add a little oil.
- Saute the chicken in batches until golden. It’s OK if it is not cooked all the way through. We will add it later to the sauce as it cooks down.
- When the chicken is cooked, you will have a fond, or scrapings in the pan. Deglaze this on a high heat with the wine and allow to cook halfway down.
- Add chicken stock and the lemon concoction from earlier and cook for a few minutes.
- Add the chicken and cook on medium until you start to see the sauce thickening. Add the cream and capers and remove when you have a delicious sauce. *The cream is optional, and many cooks don’t use it. However, I like to use it because it settles down the acids from the lemon juice and wine.
- — Paul Suplee is the owner of Boxcar 40 in Pittsville and senior lecturer of culinary arts at University of Maryland Eastern Shore.