This is a tried and true recipe around my place. It is affectionately called “Adult Mac & Cheese” because it has all the comfort food feeling of creamy pasta, but it’s a bit more grown up with white wine and shallots in it.
- 2 whole shallots, finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 whole zucchini, julienned
- 1 whole medium carrot, julienned
- 2 whole chicken breasts, trimmed
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- ¾ cups dry white wine
- ¾ cups chicken stock
- 1-¼ cup cream
- ⅓ cups pasta water reserved
- 1 pound pasta (fusilli Is great, but spaghetti or angel hair are a fun twist too)
- optional: parmesan
- Trim the chicken breasts and separate the fillet. Season both sides of all 4 pieces with salt and pepper.
- Fill a large pot of water and set it on the stovetop to boil. Don’t forget to add a tablespoon or two of salt
in to season. You’re looking for it to taste like sea water.
- Heat a large skillet to high heat. I’m using non-stick pan because that’s all I had available, but it’s best if you use stainless steel, to get a great fond on the bottom. (Fond is the lovely layer of brown bits that stick to the pan. They’re jam-packed with flavour.)
- Dip your fingers in water and drip them over the hot skillet. When the water sizzles and turns to steam when it hits the pan, you’re ready to go. If it beads up and pops like popcorn, its too hot.
- Add 1 tbsp olive oil. When ripples appear in the oil, its ready to go.
- Place the chicken, “show side” down. Make sure the pieces have a bit of oil on them to help caramelize, and then leave them alone for 2-4 minutes.
- When they’ve got a nice brown crust, turn them over and brown the other side for 2-3 minutes.
- Note: The pan will probably be very hot. Watch carefully so that you don’t burn the chicken and turn it down to medium-high heat.
- Remove the chicken to a clean cutting board to rest.
Itsnot cooked yet, so don’t try to sneak a piece!
- Add the pasta to the water, and give it a stir. Read the guidelines on your pasta, and take it out with 1-2 minutes before al dente.
Itsgoing to continue to cook when it is added to the sauce.
- Don’t forget to reserve ⅓ of a cup of the pasta
water,and all its starchy goodness!
- Put the skillet back on the stove
atmedium-high heat. Add another tablespoon of olive oil. Drop in the garlic and shallots. Season with salt and pepper. Stir regularly until golden brown.
- Add ¾ cup white wine and deglaze the pan. Make sure to scrape up all those tasty brown bits. That’s where all the flavour is. If you have a non-stick pan it will still work, but you will not get as much flavour off the pan. Pour yourself a glass of wine too!
- Continue to let the sauce simmer and when the liquid has reduced to about a third or a half of what it originally was, add in the chicken stock. Reduce the liquid again to about a third or a half.
- Using tongs and a sharp knife, slice the chicken into strips, and then bite-sized pieces. Now you can see that it is raw. Don’t worry,
itsgoing back in the sauce to finish. Cooking it in two stages keeps in from drying out.
- The pasta should be done by now. Drain and set aside.
- Add 1 ¼ cups cream to the sauce, and stir. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the carrots and the chicken. Stir and bring to a boil. This is important to finish cooking the chicken. Keep it boiling and stir occasionally over the next two minutes to make sure that the chicken is cooked through.
- Stir in half the pasta water you set aside.
- Add the pasta, and mix it all together.
- Throw the zucchini pieces in and give everything a final stir.
- The next couple of minutes are crucial, the pasta will still be cooking and absorbing liquid, this is when the overall creaminess of your dish will be determined. If it is too thick, add remaining pasta water or wine or stock. If it is too thin, let it reduce. If its not rich enough, add more cream and reduce. You be the judge. Just be patient, the pasta will absorb liquid. Check every 30 seconds, give it a mix to see if it’s the way you like it. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Sprinkle Parmesan on the top. Serve with a nice glass of the dry wine you used in the sauce. Enjoy!