For the first 30-plus years of Nancy and Jay Dubow’s marriage, Nancy Dubow was the family cook.
Then the pandemic hit, and Jay Dubow, a partner at Troutman Pepper, began working remotely. Soon, their two grown sons, David and Alex, came home from New York to work remotely. Shortly thereafter, Nancy Dubow, a devoted daughter, began caring for her widowed mother and was often not home for dinner. That left a gap in the kitchen, which Jay Dubow gradually began to fill.
“I was amazed,” Nancy Dubow said. “After all this time of not cooking, it was a bit of a surprise that he’s really good.”
“I like it. I come downstairs into the kitchen after a day of work, I put on some music, and it’s really Zen,” Jay Dubow said. “I find recipes from various places — at first, I would follow them carefully, but now that I have more of a feel, I change them up, add or remove ingredients according to our preferences. It’s been fun.”
When asked about the differences in their culinary styles, Nancy Dubow laughed: “When Jay cooks you can tell. Every single dish, every spoon is washed right away. I’m a little messier in the kitchen. And he’s all precision. I’m more about speed. With Jay, each piece of onion is chopped uniformly; I just kind of chuck it together.”
Their division of labor is now pretty clear.
“Nancy usually shops, and she sets a beautiful table,” Jay Dubow said. “I’m more behind the stove.”
Having enjoyed the fruits of their labors at a recent get-together, I’d say they have a pretty winning combination. We were greeted with a bountiful array of olives and crudité to enjoy with a lovely bottle of chardonnay, which paired perfectly with the chicken dinner on the menu.
In addition to the dishes below, Jay served grilled eggplant and roasted potato wedges. For dessert, we enjoyed fresh berries from their local farmers market, and assorted biscotti. A perfect summer meal.
Serves 4 generously
This dish is delicious, healthy and perfect for a group because it can be done ahead. It can also be altered to personal preference and what you have on hand or in your garden. Shallots? Olives? Fresh herbs? Yes!
2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cut thinly and/or pounded (scallopine)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons caper juice and 2 tablespoons capers
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup white wine
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Salt and pepper the chicken, and sear it in the oil until lightly brown on both sides, about 8 minutes total. Do this in batches if needed; the chicken should be in a single layer with space around each piece. Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside. It does not need to be cooked through at this point.
Add the onions, garlic and tomatoes to the pan and stir, scraping up any browned bits of chicken. When the onions are soft and the tomatoes are becoming a bit jammy, around 6 minutes, add the mushrooms, capers, caper juice and wine.
Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and put the chicken back in the pan. Allow it to simmer for about 30 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the sauce is slightly thickened. Sprinkle with fresh parsley before serving.
Jay’s String Beans
Serves 4 generously
These beans were uniquely delicious. The preparation leaned into the recent trend of cooking vegetables for longer, which can really bring out their flavors and meld with others to produce something approaching alchemy. If you are not a mushroom fan, skip them and let the beans stand alone. Or, add onions, shallots or, really, any vegetable you like to complement the beans.
2 pounds fresh string beans, tough stems removed
1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil, salt and pepper over medium. Add the beans and mushrooms and sauté them until they are coated and cooked.
Lower the heat and allow them to continue cooking for up to 30 minutes or so — a little browning, or even char, is fine; just keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.
Dinner is served.