Charlie Abowd: Let your imagination take over (recipe)
Well here we are heading into September, and many of you are asking what is going on with the post-fire progress at Cafe at Adele’s. Unfortunately, like many, Karen and I have had to experience the glorious world of fire insurance claims, a long and tedious process and many times quite depressing. That said, I do believe we’ve turned a corner and are now working forward in a positive direction. What fashion and how that looks is very much up in the air.
Because of the current scenario, I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with my dear wife, children, grandchildren and friends in ways I have not been able in years past. I must say there is joy in that.
Also, for the first time since its inception in the back parking lot at the restaurant some 15 years ago, I was able to participate in Concert Under the Stars, A Benefit for The Greenhouse Project, from start to finish. Seeing the creation of the venue at Eagle Valley Golf Club — thanks to owner Tom Duncan for hosting — from the ground up, to enjoying an evening of amazing and legendary music from Poco, Pure Prairie League and Firefall, through tear-down the day after, brought home the level of planning and attention to detail required to create an enjoyable evening for our community.
Seeing so many other organizations, volunteers, action committee and board members’ dedication and how well everyone and everything worked together, inspired me.
So back to the recipe. I am providing measures that will suffice for one meal. Now since I have been so blessed with a bumper crop of arugala, a by-product of being home to tend the garden daily, I have been making this in big batches. It does freeze well, and all you need to do is measure out a cup or two in a freezer bag, squeeze out the excess air, label it and put it away for later use. The pesto can be used with steak, lamb, fish or shrimp. It can also be used in a variety of potato, rice or pasta dishes or even as a garnish on hor d’eurves, for instance, layer crustini with various toppings — proscuitto, roma tomato, melon, cheese – pretty much anything you can imagine, and add a small dollop on top of your creation.
So much of the magic of cooking lies in letting your imagination take over, and being adventurous enough to overcome fear and simply go for it. Sure, you might wind up with an occasional miss, but I have found that when cooking intuitively, usually the outcomes are positive.
Now let’s get cooking!
Arugala Pesto with Grilled Chicken
1 cup tightly-packed arugala, stems removed
1/2 cup Pine nuts or blanched almonds
1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil
For this recipe we’re using Portucal brand extra virgin cold extraction olive oil, recommended by our friend Don Pepe
Three full heads (not cloves!) of garlic, peeled
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, an Italian, hard granular cheese
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste (I prefer Maldon’s Sea Salt flakes, available at Raley’s)
4 skin-on chicken breasts (I prefer bone-in as it keeps the moisture in the meat and increases flavor).
Lightly season the breasts with salt, pepper and garlic.
To prep the Arugala Pest, run ingredients through a food processor, adding a bit of each at a time and pulse until creamy and smooth.
Chicken breasts can be cooked over a medium-low grill or oven, with a light drizzle of olive oil. If using an oven, bake at 350 degrees, approximately 25 minutes. There is no need to turn the breasts during the baking process, but do check with a meat thermometer, looking for an internal temperature of 164 degrees.
If grilling, do so for 15 minutes per side for a 5 to 6 ounce chicken breast. Always check for the internal temperature as noted above.
I recommend serving with Jasmine Rice and a nice fresh salad with veggies from our wonderful 3rd & Curry Street Farmer’s Market, which takes place Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. through the last Saturday in September.
For beverage, visit The Fox and ask for a growler of whatever IPA they’ve got, or if you prefer wine, go with a Pinot Grigio.
Run ingredients through a food processor until creamy and smooth. Now since I have been so blessed with a bumper crop of arugala, a by-product of being home to tend it daily, I have been making this in big batches and freezing it for use later. It does freeze well, and all you need to do is measure out a cup or two in a freezer bag, squeeze out the excess air, label it and put it away for later use.
Charlie Abowd is the owner and chef at Adele’s. He and his wife, Karen, have lived in Carson City since 1980. Charlie is a fourth-generation restaurateur.