When Linnea [Rufo - the owner of and executive chef at the Bee & Thistle in Old Lyme] and I talked about what she would make for her boules party, she thought about Lasagna Bolognese. This can be made ahead of time and baked just before dinner time, usually around 7 pm. A big salad (we usually have somewhere around 45 people for dinner), maybe Charlie van Over’s bread. I would do a bar dessert while Linnea would get ice cream and fruit.
A couple of weeks later, we talked again. I said I would make the Bolognese sauce and the salad, too, if she would like. “No, I’m not doing lasagna. I’m going to do chicken in wine with capers.” The Bee & Thistle doesn’t even have a walk-in freezer and here she is choosing chicken with wine and capers, and she wanted to play boules, too. I thought she was nuts.
It turns out she wasn’t crazy. She had done most of the work ahead of time and the final roasting would take place in a big, big oven (it is a restaurant, after all) along with roasted zucchini. Everything was delicious and I, who can’t find a word for how boring zucchini is to me, loved this zucchini. Here are her recipes:
Chicken and Wine with Capers
From Linnea Rufo, executive chef of Bee & Thistle inn
Yield: serves 6
6 very large skinless boneless chicken breasts
Flour, salt and pepper to taste, for dredging
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup of a nice white wine
1 large chopped shallot
2 cups low-salt chicken stock
One-half cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup capers, rinsed
One-half cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3 large lemons, halved (optional)
Cut each chicken breast horizontally so each opens like a book.
Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet or a small roasting pan. Dredge the chicken in the flour, salt and pepper mixture, shaking excess and sear chicken until brown on each side. Do this in batches so you don’t cook them to the point where they will steam. If you are serving later, cool chicken and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until just before dinner.
Before ready to serve, in the same skillet with all the browned pieces, heat and deglaze with shallots and wine. Add stock and lemon juice. Place chicken pieces in the broth and roast until chicken is done. Add capers and cook another few minutes. Place chicken and sauce in a platter and sauce with the juice. Sprinkle with parsley.
Optional: If garnishing, place half lemons on a grill until brown and serve each on top of each chicken.
Also from Linnea Rufo
Here is a zucchini that is truly memorable. And easy to make. So if a neighbor rang your doorbell and ran away and you open the door and see 10 pounds of zucchini, call him and thank him.
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash and dry the zucchini. Cut the bottoms and tops off, cut them into thin strips and place in a large bowl. Mince the chives and add to the zucchini. Top with olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste. With your hands (or with a big spoon), toss together. Leave them to macerate on the counter for a few minutes or in an hour or so. Set the oven at 350 degrees. But the mixture in a baking sheet and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing once or twice during the roasting. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
About the author: Lee White (left) has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and the Shore Publishing newspapers, and Elan, a quarterly magazine, all of which are now owned by The Day.