Many many years ago, my dear mother had surgery to treat her hyperthyroidism condition. I was a tween and had no idea if the surgery was highly invasive or not. My parents, in an effort to protect us from stress and worry, gave us the news the day before her scheduled operation. I wouldn’t say that was the best parenting strategy of all time because I immediately felt this acute anxiety that lingered for the next twenty four hours.
While my mom was in the OR, we (the kids) all had to go to school and go about our daily business. I was expected to show up at ballet class and finish my Kumon homework. That afternoon, I fumbled with my locker, and despite having the same combination for years, the numbers were totally wiped from my brain. It was like I was suffering from mild amnesia.
During the car ride to the hospital, my dad could tell we were completely distraught. I think we gave ourselves away because instead of fighting and crying in the car like we always did, we sat in seats, still, pensive, and somber.
I don’t think any of us knew why we were so glum. My dad said the operation went smoothly and mom was doing great. While we sat beside our sleepy mom, being the best children possible, we removed the sadness from our face, knowing that it would bother my mom if she knew we were upset. After fifteen minutes of pretending to be my normal self, I went into the hallway and released all the tears I was holding back. I don’t know if it was because I was worried or just an emotional teenage girl. I could not stand seeing my mom so inactive and exhausted. When I walked back into her room, I called my brother a mean name (something like Hen-REEK, or Captain Smelly), hoping to start a fight to distract everyone from the obvious fact that I had just been crying.
Around dinnertime, my dad let the three of us go out for dinner. This raised our spirits a little because we rarely got to choose what we ate for dinner. We decided on the California Pizza Kitchen, which was just across the street. The excitement of going out to dinner slowly overcame us, and soon we were laughing again. I can’t remember what I ordered, but I do remember what Henry got – chicken tequila fettuccine. I instantly got buyer’s remorse, but lucky for me, he was willing to share – in exchange for a month’s worth of chores. The evening was quickly filled with happier thoughts and extra love for my family. My mom came home with the next day, and we were back to being our old and rowdy selves.
- 1½ pounds chicken breast, sliced into bite-size pieces
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 3-4 tablespoons lime juice, divided
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 small yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
- ¼ cup tequila
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 pound dry fettuccine pasta
- 1 cups heavy cream
- ½ cup chopped cilantro, plus extra for serving
- In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the chicken, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon cornstarch 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Allow it to marinate in room temperature for 20 - 30 minutes.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter, and whisk in 3 tablespoons flour. Set aside (this is a roux that will thicken the sauce).
- Bring a large pot of water to boil, and season heavily with salt. Add the fettuccine and cook according to the package. Drain the water, then set aside.
- In a large saute pan, heat up the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, place the chicken in a single layer. Don't move the chicken in the pan for 3 minutes to allow a brown crust to form at the bottom of the chicken. Once a crust is formed, stir and saute the chicken for another 2-3 minutes, until cooked through. Plate then set aside.
- Add more oil to the pan if needed. Add the onions and garlic. Season with some salt and ground black pepper, to taste. Saute for 3 minutes, until the onions slightly soften. Add the bell peppers, jalapeno, 2 tablespoons lime juice. Season with more salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Saute for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables soften. Add the tequila,and simmer until the liquids are reduced by half. Then add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, stir in the butter and flour roux, then reduce to a simmer for 5-7 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
- Add the heavy cream, and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Toss in the cooked fettuccine, chicken, cilantro, and remaining lime juice. Heat the chicken and pasta through, then remove from the heat. Plate, and serve warm, with extra cilantro.