As many of you know, we've been trying to have more family dinners Chez Verbatim. The obstacles include the following:
1. Andy is not even remotely hungry when the kids are starving (6:00-ish).
2. One night a week Steph has yoga from 5:3o to 6:30; another night Pete and Andy have soccer from 5:30 to 6:30, which really makes it hard. You can't eat a full meal before exercising, but it's awfully late to sit down to dinner with young kids at 7:00.
3. It's not easy to get dinner for 5 on the table by 6:00-ish. Some of the foods Andy and I love best are those that take a long time to cook (ribs, roast duck, etc.).
4. Our kids are not the most, shall we say, adventurous eaters on the planet. And there's only so much "plain" food Andy and I can take.
All that being said, we are trying to eat together several nights a week at least; the other nights we feed the kids on the fly and eat together later, after they're in bed. It seems to be working out well, because the kids occasionally get their beloved chicken nuggets and hot dogs and we get our ribeyes and Cabernet.
We're trying to make our family dinners more special, too. I took a cue from Kathleen and started lighting candles to usher in the dinner hour—it really does make it feel like a special time. We always do the "Julie, Julie, what do you say? What was your favorite thing today?" game all around the table, which inevitably leads to tons of family discussions and laughter.
So, what did we have tonight? Read on:
½ cup Parmesan, grated
¼ heavy cream (Update 11/30/09: I made this tonight but had only half & half on hand, and it worked just fine.)
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ lb. thick-sliced bacon, diced
1 lb. chicken tenders (cut into bite-sized pieces), seasoned with salt and pepper
12 oz. spaghetti
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (or you can just put them in the colander and pour the spaghetti and boiling water over them to defrost instantly)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the spaghetti.
In a bowl, whisk together Parmesan, eggs, cream, salt, and pepper; set aside. In another bowl, combine wine, broth, and lemon juice; set aside.
Sauté bacon in a large pan until crisp. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp bacon grease. (Save the remaining bacon grease for the next time you make fried chicken! If you throw it away, I'll have to hunt you down and punish you.) Add chicken and sauté about 3–4 minutes per side and transfer to plate with bacon.
Deglaze with wine mixture, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce by half, about 2–3 minutes.
Cook spaghetti in boiling water. Meanwhile, combine bacon, chicken, wine glaze, and egg mixture in a large bowl. Drain pasta in colander (with peas, if they're still frozen); shake to remove excess water. Add hot pasta and peas to bowl with chicken mixture; the heat from the pasta will cook off any bacteria in the raw eggs. Really.
Toss to coat evenly and serve! Excellent.