Red Wine Spaghetti
Serves 4

Let me tell you about this spaghetti!

So I started my search for a meal surrounding spaghetti by searching on the food network for articles/recipes with the word “spaghetti” in them. I came across “Red Wine Spaghetti” by Michael Chiarello. It sounded good, but I wasn’t quite sure about all of his ingredients. I don’t have red pepper flakes at school, and I hardly use them in cooking, so I didn’t want to invest in a bottle… let me tell you the dish didn’t need red pepper anything.
Since I don’t eat a lot of meat at school, meat is either dry, overcooked, or just flat out gross there, I try to have some kind of meat or protein when I cook for my boyfriend. Tonight I felt that chicken was the right choice, of course if you eat fish, any white fish would go well with this dish. I would not recommend eating red meat with this dish. I am not against red meat, I love beef in fact, but it’s too overpowering against the spaghetti. Turkey might not work, unless you’re a turkey fanatic. I used chicken breasts (which I’ll get to in a minute).
Now I’m gonna tell you this isn’t the first time I have had red wine spaghetti. My brother made it for my family a couple of years ago after he saw it being made on TV (probably by Michael Chiarello). It was delicious then, and I’m not sure if he did it from memory or the recipe, I just remember it was good.
I eventually did a google image search for red wine spaghetti (sometimes it’s the best way to find recipes so you can “see” what you are doing) and I found Michael Chiarello’s recipe copied and pasted with a pretty good image here. Looks great, huh? This is the recipe I printed out, don’t ask me why, it’s just how I did things.
Chicken Breasts
I used 2 free-range chicken breasts (of a pretty good size) from Trader Joe’s, if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s, no worries, I’m sure you can get chicken breasts pretty much anywhere. After cleaning the breasts of what little fat they had, I then proceeded to cut them in half and coat them with an egg wash. I just beat up one egg, and dipped the breasts in. On a separate plate I put about 2 and 1/2 cups of bread crumbs, 1 Tablespoon of paprika, 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper and 3/4 Tablespoon of garlic powder. When coating chicken with a bread crumb mixture, I find that garlic powder or dried minced garlic is easier to use than fresh garlic, or frozen garlic cubes. I covered the breasts in the mixture and left them on the plate until I was ready to throw them in around 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil (A couple turns of the pan, if you may). Cook the chicken until it’s cooked through. I usually cut a little through the thickest piece, and then serve myself that piece so none of your guests will get a pre-cut piece. In addition to throwing my chicken in the pan, I also put most of my leftover breadcrumbs in the pan to fry a bit, later I tossed the pasta with these breadcrumbs (it’s a delicious addition, and honestly a few breadcrumbs won’t hurt… plus the texture adds a little zing to the pasta). Make sure you take your pan off the stove as soon as the chicken is done, you don’t want to burn those breadcrumbs!!!
Broccoli + Garlic

I like to have at least one bulb of garlic handy for all my cooking needs, you never know when you’re gonna need to mince up a clove of garlic. I used two cloves, and one bag of broccoli for this part of the recipe. A bag is about 12oz (I also buy this at Trader Joe’s, but If you don’t buy your broccoli pre-cut in a bag, one medium-sized head of broccoli should be fine (but use less of the stem)). I started by putting around 2 tablespoons in a sauté pan, and heating it up. It’s important to heat your oil before cooking anything… don’t throw your food into a pan of cold oil… it doesn’t work, I’ve tried it. Another tip about cooking with oil, make sure your pan is dry of water before putting in the oil, or else you might get attacked by some oil drops (painful). Back to the recipe (sorry about my tangents), After heating the oil in your pan, throw in two cloves of minced or sliced garlic, this depends on how much you or your guests, or your sweetheart likes garlic. I personally don’t like biting into a huge chunk of garlic, so I mince mine. I let the garlic sauté for a little under 2 minutes… never burn the garlic, if you burn the garlic, start over from the beginning. Once the garlic was starting to “brown” I threw in my broccoli florets and about 1/2 cup of water. I gently tossed my broccoli to coat it in the oil/garlic, and then I covered the pan and let the broccoli steam for about 10 minutes (turning it with a wooden spoon every once in a while) on a medium-low heat. When the broccoli is to the tenderness you enjoy, turn off the heat and drain any leftover water in the pan. Some recipes mix the broccoli/garlic mixture in with the spaghetti, I just served it on the side… it’s just as good.

The Spaghetti
I used organic spaghetti, I think that whole-wheat spaghetti would be great for this dish if you’re looking to be relatively healthy. There is nothing wrong with whole-wheat spaghetti, it’s actually quite good, and I know my mother wouldn’t like it if I didn’t at least mention the option of whole-wheat grains. One thing that I didn’t like about most of the recipes is that they all agreed Zinfandel was the best red wine to use. I do not agree. We used a Charles Shaw (“expensive” bottle) of Shiraz. It was perfect. You only spend two dollars on a good cooking wine, and since you’re using the whole bottle… why spend more than two bucks?
I start all of my pastas the same way (except for my arugula pesto pasta). Enough water in the pot (and you need a fair amount of water to cook pasta, none of this “enough water to cover the pasta” deal), several dashes of salt (I’m not sure of the exact ratio of salt to water, but it flavors the pasta), for this pasta I didn’t use as much salt as I normally use for pastas because the wine adds a bit of a saltish flavor to it. When the water came to a boil, I poured the bag in and made sure my spaghetti was submerged. The normal cooking time for the spaghetti was nine minutes, so I cooked it for four minutes in the water, drained it, poured the bottle of wine in the empty pot with a dash of sugar (don’t overdo the sugar), and then cooked the pasta in the wine for the remaining five minutes. At this stage it’s important to keep your eyes on the spaghetti and turn it in the wine. There isn’t enough wine to cover the pound of spaghetti, so you need to move it all around in order for it to cook properly. I didn’t reduce the wine/sugar into a “sauce,” I just let the noodles soak, and then I drained the remaining liquid when the pasta was done.

Alright, are you frightened of boiling water yet? Sorry that was a bit daunting, but I just wanted to walk you through the recipe instead of putting a list of ingredients and a “simple method” of cooking. It’s like learning to read, you have to hear it as well as see it.
Try this recipe!! It’s delicious and if you are only two, there’s enough leftovers here for lunches the next day for both.

Love and Happy Spatulas,

Alyssa

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