Last week I arrived home one day, having been out in the morning, to find a note from my postman telling me he’d left a parcel for me with a neighbour. Slightly puzzled as I wasn’t expecting any work (usual reason for parcels) or an Amazon delivery, I went to see what was waiting for me. It turned out to be the delightful surprise of a gift from Fattoria La Vialla.
I was told about Fattoria La Vialla only a few weeks ago by a member of my book club, Tim. He thought – because of my writing the blog – that I might be interested in it. I signed up and soon received a couple of brochures – one a Christmas one.
This organic and biodynamic farm and wine estate in the Chianti region of Tuscany produce their own olive oil, cheese, pasta and wine which – if you don’t live close enough to Tuscany to visit them – you can order online. If you do wish to visit them and buy direct, then there is self-catering accommodation available from April to October and guests are invited to dinner once a week.
The brochures are beautifully produced with wonderful photos and there were a number of excellent hampers at good prices available – with delivery in the UK. I seriously considered ordering some as Christmas gifts but didn’t in the end get round to it … however, when my little ‘hamper’ arrived last week from the farm, I realised what a great find it was and decided to make the most of their gift. The box contained some of their pasta – spaghetti – which is made from organic durum wheat. There was also a small jar of La Rosmarina – a rosemary tomato sauce – made from ripe tomatoes, fresh rosemary, olive oil, garlic, pepper and salt. To accompany it, they’d sent a small (66ml) bottle of their vino rosso da tavola, Il Barriccato, which is a blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged for 12 months in ‘barriques’. There was even a mini corkscrew made from olive wood to open it.
How could one not give such a delightful present due respect? There was the suggestion that I could just serve the tomato sauce with the pasta but I decided to go a step further and cook a chicken escalope to go with it. I’ve often eaten chicken cooked this way with spaghetti and tomato sauce in Italian restaurants like Carluccio’s.
With the tomato sauce ready made, and the chicken flattened out for cooking, it was a very quick supper taking only about 20 minutes from start to finish. I put water on to boil – adding some salt – for the spaghetti. Then I put a breast of chicken between two pieces of cling film and flattened them with a rolling pin, until quite thin.
I’d bought some Panko breadcrumbs for coating the chicken, along with egg and flour. Panko breadcrumbs are obviously not Italian; they’re Japanese. But they’re all the rage at the moment with cooks when breadcrumbs are called for and it certainly beats drying one’s own.
I had ready three bowls containing plain flour, beaten egg and some of the breadcrumbs.
I put a little olive oil in the bottom of a shallow frying pan and heated it. Meanwhile, I’d added the spaghetti to the boiling salted water to cook for 11 minutes. I dipped my flattened chicken breast (my escalope!) in first the flour, coating it well, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. I gently lowered it into the hot oil.
I cooked it for about 3-4 minutes until the underside was nicely golden, then flipped it carefully over to cook the other side. When that was ready, I transferred to a plate with a sheet of kitchen towel to drain off excess fat.
While the chicken had been cooking, I’d transferred the tomato sauce to a small pan and gently heated it. When the spaghetti was ready, I drained it and added it with just a little of the cooking water to the sauce and folded it in, cooking it all for a further minute or two to combine well.
I then transferred the chicken to a serving plate and spooned on the spaghetti and tomato sauce. I served a little green salad on the side.
It was all really delicious. Cooking chicken in this way – beaten out thin and then coated with the egg and breadcrumbs and cooked quickly – results in a gorgeously moist and tender meat. The spaghetti and tomato makes a lovely accompaniment. The Fattoria La Vialla pasta was excellent with a wonderful taste and texture; the tomato sauce was delicious too with its great flavour from ripe tomatoes and the fresh rosemary. The wine was also very good and the little bottle so sweet, I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away! I’ll certainly keep the olive wood corkscrew too.
Many thanks to Fattoria La Vialla for the gift and inspiring tonight’s supper … and it’s got me thinking about visiting Tuscany! Wouldn’t it be great to visit them. To find out more about them see their website: click here.