When I was a student at UW-Madison in the 1980s, everyone was talking about alumna Jane Brody, the New York Times writer who was making a name for herself writing cookbooks about healthy food.
I very much wanted to write about food, but was not sure how to start. I wrote my first “how-to” feature about baking bread, which at that time was one of the few things I knew how to do.
Somewhere along the line, I heard someone say, “Yes, Jane’s doing very well but there’s another grad over in Paris who is doing some interesting things with French cooking.”
That was Patricia Wells.
It took me a while to put two and two together — to connect the name Patricia Wells with the J-school alumna I'd heard about — but I have followed her career and cheered her many successes.
And I’ve made my share of Patricia’s recipes. I have never known one to fail.
Sunday we had Patricia’s Fricassee of Chicken with White Wine, Capers and Olives. It's from The Provence Cookbook, published in 2004. I did not have a whole chicken and did not feel like leaving the house to get one, so I used two chicken breasts and halved the recipe, which calls for tomatoes, onions, green olives and capers.
It's easy: Season the chicken and brown, then remove from the pan and soften the onions. You then add everything else and simmer over low heat for an hour. I served this with penne pasta flavored with butter, truffle breakings and a dash of grated Gruyere.
"Ah, the tastes!" my husband exclaimed after the first bite. "And the chicken is so tender."
I've said it before, you cannot go wrong following a Patricia Wells recipe.