In the interest of full disclosure I want to say, up-front, that I am a total lemon freak. In fact, citrus in general has always been an Achillean weakness of mine but lemons will always stand front and center. Hell, you are reading the words of a man whose own humble patio citrus grove now stands somewhere between 15 and 20 species (we Michio Kaku junkies can’t be bothered with pedestrian concepts like numbers and counting). So it is with no small sense of highly personal introspection that I make the following analysis…
You see, you can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat the lemons that life throws at them. In fact, next to “breast size”, I find this delineation to be one of the most useful methods available for meaningfully categorizing the populace into easily-catalogued segments.
The most irrepressibly generic among us tend to make lemonade…those smug, old-school bastards, always smiling and happy. Try and turn my frown upside down??? Friend, I EARNED this frown!! Try a tour of duty through law school and two viewings of the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie and then let’s chat about pain… I sure hope you have lemonade-maker’s insurance, you self-righteous little…
Always wanna punch them in the face for some reason. But then my sense of moral obligation turns back on me, forcing me to feel bad for having such thoughts — especially when they’re children.
Of course, this just pisses me off even more since I should be able to fantasize about face-bopping those damn optimistic hippies however I want, am I right?? This is America, damnit… I am somewhat acquainted with people who fought for that freedom… What, me? No, no…I totally would have but I was born a lover, remember? Can’t fight genetics and all…
Needless to say, violence typically ensues as my inner turmoil spills outward…and then there’s all the screaming (the lemonaders in this scenario NEVER fight back. They pretty much always cower and shriek like schoolgirls – which just isn’t cool, except for that one fight I got into with a schoolgirl…absolutely got my ass handed to me…not my best day)…and then the policemen…and the pepper spray…
I guess my point being a simple one: in the wrong hands lemonade can be a vile, noxious brew of smug self-righteousness…a hellish libation, spiced with pure, self-indulgent tripe and funneled to your glass through an upturned battle horn of fermented evil — but, you know, to each his own…
The more enterprising set in this high-stakes world of involuntary lemon adoption will often grab a few limes and raid their liquor cabinet en route to a kick-ass margarita. THESE are the people we all want to hang with. Unfortunately, such people seem invariably incapable of taking down a proper address to save their lives…always losing my invites in the mail… I mean, once or twice is understandable but… Wai…wait a damn minute… You know what, screw them too!!
Then you’ve got those of us who see the world of citrus as a realm of limitless possibility, so often abused with simplistic, heavy-handed zeal and yet so uniquely suited to subtly enhance a borderless expanse of dishes for anybody who can see past the desiccated wedge on an expired bed of curled parsley, quietly cursing you from the “garnish corner” of your plate.
For people with this particular zest for life (you see what I did there), I humbly offer up the world’s most cutting edge, phenomenal and super-wicked-awesome soup EVER. Sophisticated enough to be a meal’s main focal point, yet sufficiently light for a friend in need of a ‘Get Well Soon’ pick-me-up — or a little hair o’ the dog…
(In a fit of Churchillian brilliance, I actually wrote out the recipe first just in case I sank too deep into the cooking wine along the way…which, as you can see above…………I may have…)
1 chicken breast (boneless & skinless)
5 cups all-natural chicken stock (reduced sodium works best)
1/2 cup risoni pasta (often called orzo to us Westerners)
1/3 cup Pinot Grigio
6 oz fresh baby spinach
2 eggs, fully whisked
1 oz of lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)
1 tbsp shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
3/4 tsp kosher salt
zest of 1 lemon
chives to garnish
*kaffir lime leaf (both segments) — Of course, this is not necessary but if you’re awesome enough to have your own kaffir lime tree growing out back (and I totally am) then it’s a total no-brainer to *BAM* this bad boy into the mix.
First things first: melt your butter over medium heat and quickly pan-sear your chicken breast, lightly seasoned with kosher salt and pepper. This is highly dependent on the size of the breast (awwwww yeah) so your best bet is to get the pan nice and hot over medium-high heat before you get going… The chicken should sizzle as soon as it hits the pan and you can begin to watch for browning around the edge – probably 3 or 4 minutes. As with grilling, don’t mess with the meat until it tells you it’s ready to be flipped. Once you see that browning creeping up the sides, flip it over and cook until the other side matches.
Once browned, let the chicken rest in a sealed pouch of aluminum foil for at least ten minutes. Never, ever slice right into a cut of meat fresh off the flame without giving it a good 10 minutes or so to rest. Don’t forget your Haunted House Protocol. Yes, it applies to chicken too.
…but in case you actually require a visual…
From here on out, this is actually a quick and easy recipe – by soup standards. Bring your chicken stock, covered, to a simmer with your shallots, garlic and torn or bruised kaffir lime leaf (I can confirm that, yes, it is possible to bruise a kaffir lime leaf – if you get in close enough enough for a solid jab…but be warned, they DO NOT play fair).
Once simmering, fish out the lime leaf (or reach right in and grab it if you’re a bigger man than I…though the odds are clearly against that) and stir in your risoni to cook for another 5 minutes. At this point, your base will likely already smell insanely good. This is natural. Do not be alarmed.
Drizzle a thin and steady stream of whisked eggs into the base and stir, constantly, for 30 or 45 seconds to cook the eggs into fine strands. Then mix in the wine, lemon juice, zest and salt.
Once well mixed, begin adding the baby spinach. Start with a small handful at a time, letting it wilt before adding more. Garnish with chopped chives and a tiny dollop of zest, if you’re feeling fancy, and serve up immediately or keep covered on low heat.
Perfectly complemented by the last of that Pinot Grigio you managed to save…or perhaps a glass of water and two preventive Excedrin if you actually slammed the whole bottle.
Serve with lemonade and I will snarl… Serve with lemonade and a smile, and I will totally punch you in the face.