Tuesday, July 11, 2006
The Italian Connection
Benvenuto al Italia! Welcome to Italy in my next Silhouette Intimate Moments release in August. Deadly Memories is the last (for now) in my series about the men and women of the Anti-Terrorism Security Agency (ATSA). The hunt for stolen uranium and their personal searches take my characters to that ancient land of extravagant food, wine and people. As you can tell from the title, Deadly Memories, my characters' memories were not pleasant. Jack's deadly memories focus him on vengeance. Sophie's memory of a villain's deadly intent could get her killed—before she can recall his secrets. As they drive mountain roads and hide out in remote villages to escape the villain, they find beauty and warmth as well as passion and danger.
My memories of a trip to Italy years ago are much more pleasant. Those and my research helped me to indulge myself with Italian culture and lore. I steeped myself in the language and history, architecture and scenery as I created villas and villages. Of course, I had to sample the wine and recipes that accompanied my characters' journey from Venice to Tuscany. Here is one of the recipes I found delicious as I ate—um, worked my way through the story.
Pollo Al Mattone, or Tuscan Pressed Chicken
1 small chicken, split down backbone; or 4 deboned chicken breasts
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for basting
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, sliced for garnish
Press the chicken to form a uniform thickness, as flat as you can. Marinate in lemon juice for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and discard the juice. Rub the chicken on both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, chopped sage, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Heat olive oil in an iron skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add the chicken and place a weighted lid on top of the chicken. Cook for approximately 55 minutes, turning 3 or 4 times and basting with pan juices. Cut the cooked chicken into pieces and serve immediately. If using deboned chicken breasts, cut cooking time in half. Garnish with lemon slices.