Chicken Rotini with Roasted Red Peppers and Goat Cheese

When I was a small child, one of my favorite things to do was to sit with my dad pouring over the plans for the specially designed, energy-efficient home that he had drawn up when he was 18 years old, before he even had a family to share it with.  I was 13 or 14 when he finished bulding it and we moved in. 

Saturday mornings spent in the homes we lived in previous to building “the house” were enjoyed by all four of us (my brother didn’t come along until just before we finished the house) sitting around the t.v. watching cooking shows on public television.  There was Julia, of course, Justin Wilson, the Cajun cook, Yen Can Cook, and Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet…I’m pretty sure that without realizing it, this was where my desire to cook was born.  My parents were both great cooks and we always enjoyed good food and trying new things together.  So when it came time to buy appliances for the large kitchen my parents had planned, they knew they really wanted a professional restaurant kitchen gas stove.  They settled on a six burner Vulcan.  By the time I got to cooking school and started working in professional kitchens, using a restaurant range was the norm for me, I am grateful to say.  Very grateful.  My dad told me just a few months ago, in fact, when we were discussing my home and when I plan to convert our kitchen to gas, that they had found the greatest deal on that stove in the house we built.  It cost less than a department store regular sized range.  I was impressed.  I hadn’t known.  That house was full of great deals like that and I guess I got my frugality as well as love for culinary things from him.

Well, in all the moves my husband and I have made, only once have we been lucky enough to have a gas range in any of the apartments and military homes we have lived in.  Fortunately, it was in the little Pearl Harbor duplex we occupied while I was going to culinary school that we had a gas range.  I remember learning to make Bananas Foster and Cherries Jubilee tableside for the customers that were our guinea pigs in the three restaurants that the culinary school operated.  Just to make sure I didn’t set myself or someone else on fire, I stopped at the package store on the way home that night before stopping at the grocery store for the other ingredients I would need to practice on my own gas stove.  It was just me, hubby was at sea, but I made saute pan after saute pan of gooey sweetness that night.  I don’t even like bananas foster, but I was so happy to have my  gas stove with those beautiful blue flames to tip the edge of the saute pan into for lighting the alcohol.

Then my Fundamentals of Cookery instructor showed us how we could roast peppers right on the burner over the open flame, no grill required.  Too cool!  I ended up with jars of roasted red peppers covered in olive oil in my refrigerator waiting to be used and use them I did.

Now I cook with frustration on my little electric stove wondering when I will get around to calling the gas man to give him the go-ahead for the permits to convert my kitchen to electric.  The 150 gallon tank is already in place, the problem is that we toy with the idea of putting in a gas fireplace and if we do, we prefer to have it all hooked up at once. 

The little house on our property that was converted from a stable has an apartment sized gas stove in it.  Two winters ago it was our “lifeboat” when the power went out for a couple of days.  We had no water, but for the gallon jugs we’d had the presence of mind to store up, and no electricity, but we had fresh eggs from our chickens, and a cooler full of food to be cooked on our fully functioning little range.  I was in heaven cooking away on that little stove with snow coming down outside feeling like we had cheated Mother Nature out of a good whopping.

These red peppers I roasted inside on my cast iron stove-top grill.  I had intended to cook them outside on the gas grill but a storm interfered with my plans.  A roasted pepper is a roasted pepper.  They were delicious with the garlic and goat cheese. 

Ingredients:

1 lb. rotini, cooked

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts with fat trimmed, cut into strips across the grain

2 whole roasted red peppers, peeled and seeded

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 c. dry white wine

2 oz. grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

6 T extra virgin olive oil

6 oz. goat cheese

Method: 

Char the red bell peppers on a grill or over an open flame until softened.  Remove charred skin and pulp with seeds.  Slice into thin strips. 

Cook pasta according to package directions. 

Heat oil in a large saute pan.  Add garlic to sweat before tossing in chicken pieces. 

Cook thoroughly, seasoning with salt and pepper.  Deglaze the pan with the wine and add peppers to the pan. 

Toss together with pasta.  

Plate.  Sprinkle each serving with grated parmesan.  Crumble goat cheese over the top.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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