Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Fresh angel hair pasta with poached chicken, asparagus, snow peas, a touch of pesto and clarinets.

It was well after eight on a Saturday night. My mother-in-law was here for dinner so I wanted something fast but impressive, easy but interesting, simple but appetising. So I went to the kebab shop.

No, I didn’t. I might have wanted to, but instead I sliced a large chicken breast fillet into one-centimetre cubes, placed these in a pan with a close-fitting lid over half a tablespoon of olive oil and a sliced garlic clove, sloshed in half a glass of white wine and the cubed flesh of an avocado and set the pan on a low heat to poach the chicken and warm the avocado through.

Then I drank the other half of the glass of wine.

Fresh angel hair pasta, six little bunches from Donnini’s, was already cooking in a large pan in salted, oiled water. When the pasta was a minute away from done, I threw in ten asparagus spears I had sliced in three pieces each, and a good handful of snow peas. I shook the poaching pan and, with tongs, turned over a few cubes of reluctant chicken. It shouldn’t stick if the heat is low and there’s enough fluid. When just done, I added a tablespoon of home-made pesto and stirred it through, put the lid back on, placed the pan on the fire and gave it a good shake. Thirty seconds and that was it.

I drained the pasta and vegetables, placed them in a large serving bowl about the size of a Bentley steering wheel, and poured the chicken and avocado over the top. (Alternatively you can make a richer sauce by removing the chicken and avocado with a slotted spoon, adding cream to the pan with perhaps a little more wine, reducing this and pouring it over.)

Then a shower of flaked parmesan, chopped parsley and cracked pepper, and I placed the large dish in the middle of the table as a shared platter and served crusty bread and red wine and a simple side salad of leaves with vinaigrette.

This was easy and delicious. The avocado gave the dish a luxurious texture and the pesto ramped up the flavour. The key is not to overcook the chicken.


We ate around nine listening to some old Saturday-night type jazz on the radio; sax and double bass and clarinets, I suppose. Earlier, we had picked up my mother-in-law from Tullamarine. She spends her life playing golf and travelling. For some reason she’d flown Tiger. It’s a time warp: you stand behind a gate and watch the passengers disembark like at Essendon in the 1960s.

We would drive her home to Gippsland on the morrow.


Barbara said...

Always a good idea to impress one's mother-in-law. Judging from your description of the dish, I'm sure you succeeded.

kitchen hand said...

She actually added the word 'very' before the word 'nice', Barbara. It was like an extra chef's hat.

Ellen said...

I would not have thought of adding avocado to the chicken but now you have me intrigued. Sounds delicious!