Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fettucini Alfredo with Chicken Thighs

I have always liked alfredo.  I know it is probably not the best dish in the world for you, but if you enjoy it occationally, I see no harm.  Just run a few extra laps around the park the next day.  Anyhow, I took a very traditional recipe for alfredo sauce, namely using unsalted butter and flour to make a  roux, then adding heavy cream and fresh grated parmesian cheese to thicken into a wonderful, creamy white alfredo sauce.  I use grana padano cheese - perhaps because I've seen one too many episodes of Lidia's Italy.  A little salt to flavor and don't forget a few turns of fresh cracked pepper.

For pasta, I prefer to make my own and use whole wheat all purpose flour.  I sometimes add a little bread flour if I need to form more gluten, but this is not generally needed.  Once the pasta is ready (aldente please), toss with alfredo sauce and I like to add frozen green peas tossed in a pan just about two minutes to barely cook them.  As Jacques Pepin has often pointed out, frozen peas are usually better than fresh, unless you grew the peas yourself or if you can be sure they were picked in the last 48 hours.  Frozen peas are flash frozen after being picked to preserve that freshness.  To me, the peas add a wonderful accent of flavor to the pasta as each one bursts in your mouth when you take a bite.

Instead of using chicken breast, I used chicken thighs.  First off, chicken breast can be dry if you do not prepare properly and tends to become more dry when not served whole.  Boneless thighs, however, are wonderfully tender and easy to cook.  I sear the thighs in olive oil in a dutch oven, then remove and drain any fat.  Then add a little oil, garlic, shallots, and as soon as they start to brown, a cup of white wine to deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Next reinsert the chicken thighs, butter, chicken stock, and then season with herbs.  Bring to a simmer and cover; preheat the oven to 350.  Place the chicken in the oven for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking prepare the pasta and alfredo sauce.  Once the chicken is ready, plate and serve.  Easy and delicious.

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