Sunday, January 24, 2010

Carmela Soprano's Chicken, Anna Sultana's Spaghetti Pie

The lasagne was a success. Paul liked my new hobby.

Last week Sobey's had a 2-for-1 deal on chicken breasts, so I went back to my new cookbook Entertaining with The Sopranos and looked for a chicken recipe. Carmela's Crunchy Baked Chicken looked simple and extremely familiar.

Carmela had the same basic ingredients as Ma's Crunchy Fried Chicken: mix some dry bread crumbs with grated cheese. Throw in a few Italian spices. Dip the chicken pieces in a beaten egg, roll the chicken in the crumb mixture and bake.


Eureka!!! I had found something better than Ma's recipe. I loved my Ma's fried chicken. To eat, not to make. When I made it, grease flew all over me and the kitchen. And when I served it, well, some parts were burned and some parts were raw. Ma's fried chicken was a fond memory never to be recreated by me. But, baking? No problem. No muss. No fuss.

Baking the chicken wasn't enough of a challenge. I flipped through the book and found another old favorite, Spaghetti Pie. With that recipe in mind, I cooked enough spaghetti to serve with the chicken and to use for the pie.

Paul raved about the chicken. He thought I'd made my Ma's recipe. Okay. What he doesn't know won't hurt him. We've been married almost 38 years. A little lie once in a while is par for the course. We're talking cooking, not sex.

A couple of nights after the chicken success, I decided to make the Spaghetti Pie recipe.

Hmmm. Carmela is married to a well to do fellow. She has nails out to there. And her Spaghetti Pie recipe showed that the Sopranos were eating high off the hog. It had a few extra ingredients: 2 ounces each of both Genoa salami or soppressata and prosciutto or boiled ham, plus 4 ounces of provolone and a 1/2 cup of Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Carmela also said, "You will not need salt, because the meats and cheeses are salty." Hello? Has Tony checked his blood pressure lately?

When Ma made Spaghetti Pie we knew it was either Friday or time to pay the house's heating oil bill.

Ma's Spaghetti Pie was simpler than Carmela's. Cheaper, too. No meat. Some milk stretched the eggs. Parsley, garlic and pre-grated, store-brand Parmesan cheese boosted the flavor. Comparing the 2 recipes, I'd say Ma's was safer for folks watching their cholesterol intake and blood pressure. Folks like Paul and me.

When it came to the Spaghetti Pie, I decided to stick to Ma's recipe. Like I said last week, I'm not Julie Powell slavishly trying to recreate Julia Child's classic recipes. Going back to my food roots was the goal. There's more to life than fancy cold cuts and cheese. What I saved on the soppressata, prosciutto and provolone, I blew on some wine.

The Spaghetti Pie was a success. The wine was good, too.

Four recipes down. Eighty-two more to go.

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