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It all started with the desire to write a letter. Unable to find nice stationary at my house without the words “Thank You” emblazoned across the front, I voyaged over to the Paper Source store in the Virginia Highlands. As I discovered there, while note cards are plentiful these days, actual stationary is not.  At least Crane & Co still has a few choices out there, which, while not super exciting, are classic and in good taste. So I acquired my stationary and, noticing that it was quite a lovely evening, decided to take a walk around the area and check out some of the other shops.

As it turns out, there’s an Italian Deli almost right next door to Paper Source. Intrigued, I stepped inside to investigate. In contrast to most of the shops in that area, the decor was nothing to write home about. The room store was long and narrow, with dim lighting and utilitarian display cases. Like I said, nothing to write home about. In contrast, the products looked fantastic. Pasta-laden shelves stretched back into the store and I found myself pouring over all the pasta shapes and styles that are difficult to find in most grocery stores. Opposite the pasta, the display case held cured meats and cheeses. The proprietor caught me eying the soppressata and passed a sample over the counter. One bite and I was hooked.  Having ordered far too much soppressata and cheese, I made my way over to the register, pasta in hand.

That was when I found the jars of caper berries.

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 I love caper berries. They have all the briny goodness of straight up capers (the buds of the plant), but with so much more character. Gleefully, I added the jar of caper berries to my stack of treasures at the register.

As I drove home, I contemplated what to make with my newly acquired caper berries. I mean, the meat and cheese I ate straight up with a baguette, but the capers required a little more reflection. Finally, I settled upon the idea of a pasta coated in this tangy, but deep lemon-caper white wine sauce. And then, just for fun, I decided throw in some artichokes and chicken thighs, because…why not? Well, actually because I like protein and artichokes are delicious and just seemed like the perfect vegetable to round out the dish.

I used Bon Appétit’s technique for “perfect pan roasted chicken thighs,” adapting it slightly to suit my needs. Then I cooked up some Capellini pasta, which falls in between spaghetti and angel hair in terms of width, and then tossed that pasta in a sauce made from white wine, capers, garlic, butter and other goodness. Throw it all together and you have one beauty of a dinner.

 

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Lemon Caper Pasta with Artichoke and Chicken Thighs
 
Recipe By:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Chicken Thighs
  • 4 Chicken Thighs
  • 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 large clove Garlic, sliced
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Pasta
  • 1 lb Capellini Pasta
  • Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp reserved chicken fat
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 jar of Caper Berries, drained
  • 1 jar of Artichoke Hearts, sliced
  • 1 Lemon, sliced
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ C White wine
  • ½ C Chicken stock or broth
  • Parsley, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Chicken Thighs
  2. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable or canola oil in an oven-proof pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic slices and saute until fragrant.
  4. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and then add them the pan, skin-side down. Let the chicken thighs cook approximately 12 minutes -- until the skin has turned golden in color.
  5. Pour off and reserve the fat in the pan and then move the pan (chicken still skin-side down) to the oven. Bake for 12 minutes and then flip the chicken over.
  6. Bake the chicken, skin side up, for about 5 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and the chicken is at least 160 degrees F all the way through.
  7. Remove the chicken and set aside to rest.
  8. Pasta
  9. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until just al dente. Drain the pasta and toss with some olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking.
  10. In a separate pan (or the drained chicken pan), heat 3 Tbsp of the reserved rendered chicken fat and 2 Tbsp of butter. Add the garlic and saute until the garlic is fragrant and soft.
  11. Add the the capers, artichoke hearts, half of the sliced lemon and the salt. Saute for another few minutes until the capers and artichokes just start to show some color.
  12. Add half of the white wine to deglaze the pan, making sure to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan.
  13. Add the rest of the white wine and the chicken stock and bring the sauce to a simmer.
  14. Simmer the broth until it reduces by at least half and just begins to thicken.
  15. Add the pasta to the pan and stir or toss to fully coat all the strands with the sauce.
  16. Serve the pasta and the chicken thighs together, garnished with the remaining lemon slices and a good helping of parsley.
 

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