Putting on my dinner rally cap

I came from behind to score a victory on dinner last night: Mark Bittman’s Chicken Provencale.*

I was nearly defeated by giant olives that were impossible to pit because they didn’t really fit in the pitter contraption I got from my dad. Then I realized that I forgot to ask the butcher to split the chicken breasts, so I had to do it myself.

I almost had a cooking breakdown standing there in the kitchen over the unsplit chicken breasts. I almost threw the chicken in the freezer for a day when I had more patience and got leftovers out of the fridge.

But then!

I thought about it and said to myself, What Would Mark Bittman Do? I remembered that one of the things I like about Mark Bittman is that he gets those cooking breakdown moments, and he tries to cut them off at the pass. In fact, I once said to Vrylena that I like Mark Bittman because he seems to understand that “what the hell have I done” moment you have when you’re staring down the raw chicken in your kitchen after you get home from the store. I said that I suspect he gets that feeling himself sometimes, in spite of the multiple cookbooks and the New York Times column and the TV appearances and everything. I take comfort in that.

So I took a deep breath and rallied and attacked the chicken breasts. They were only slightly mangled and still perfectly usable, but next time I’ll remember to ask the butcher to split them for me. I put the recalcitrant olives back in the fridge and caved and used canned black olives that Jay had in the basement (don’t even start: I searched four stores for non-kalamata black olives not sold in a can and came up empty handed, except for the giant unpittable cerignolas from Whole Foods). I’m sure fancy olives would have been better, but honestly, the canned ones were perfectly decent, and the whole dish was really tasty and had this nice thick tomato sauce that went really well with rice and broccolini.

Katy 1, Cooking Breakdown 0.

*That recipe as written is what’s in the cookbook, for the most part, except for the zucchini and eggplant. And I didn’t use the anchovies because, I don’t know, anchovies. We’re not really fans, but if that’s your thing, go for it.

One Response to “Putting on my dinner rally cap”
  1. Vrylena says:

    Congratulations on splitting the chicken breasts! I find that good kitchen scissors help a lot there. You just cut straight through everything.

    And I think the big secret of cooking is that you actually have “what the hell have I done” moments all the time, you just get more used to it happening, and it happens in more and more advanced ways.

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