Thursday, September 25, 2014

Roasted garlic chicken alfredo fettuccine

Hello everyone!  Yes, this is another chicken post...what can I say?  I love chicken!  It is affordable, and versatile and healthy and....and....and I just like it!  When I was a teenager, I also loved alfredo, until I woke up one day and realized it has no flavor.  So, one day, I wondered if I could figure out a way fix that.  Let me ask you this, what can garlic not fix?  They even have garlic ice cream, for goodness sake!  
I thought that roasted garlic would add a really nice subtle flavor, that would be a nice complement to the original dish, without completely changing it.  Add in some pan seared chicken, lovely sliced mushrooms, and now we're talking!  This is creamy, lightly flavored with a sweet roasted garlic flavor, with a little bit of earthy-ness from the mushrooms all twirled together around a perfect pasta.  I made this dish with my homemade pasta recipe, although I cut it into fettuccine, and not spaghetti noodles.  If you don't want to make fresh pasta, dried boxed pasta will work for this, of course, but fresh really does make a difference!   Are you ready to watch this dish come together?  Lets get started!
Here's your grocery list:
1 (5 oz) container of shredded, or grated Parmesan cheese.*
1 (8 oz) container of baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 pint heavy cream
3-5 garlic cloves
1 TBS olive oil
 Kosher salt
1 bunch of fresh parsley (optional)
Either fresh fettuccine, or a box of it.
1 chicken breast per serving **
Garlic powder and paprika for seasoning the chicken

*  Not the stuff that comes in a green can, found in the stores by the tomato sauce.  The real Parmesan cheese, found in the deli section of your grocery store.  There are only a few ingredients in this dish, so you want them to be a good quality, to really shine!
** If you really want to make this easy, just buy a rotisserie chicken from the store, shred it up, and use it in place of pan searing a chicken breast.  Easy peasy!

I like to start this, by roasting my garlic in a 400* oven, so go ahead and preheat your oven!  I do this hours ahead of time, just so it is one less thing to do when its crunch time; this isn't a difficult dish to make, but once it starts coming together, it is best to have everything put together and prepped.

So, just like in my roasted garlic, lemon chicken soup, take your garlic cloves (since I was just making this for myself, I went ahead and used 5 cloves of garlic!), leaving the paper of the garlic clove on, place them on some aluminium foil with 1 TBS olive oil, and 1/2 tsp Kosher salt.  Wrap it up like a little gift of love, and pop it into you oven, for about 10-15 minutes.  I always say, wait until you smell the roasted garlic, wait another couple of minutes, then pull the packet out!  The garlic will squeeze right out of its paper jacket, and be all soft and squishy and delicious.  When I pull it out of the oven, I just place it in my sink, in case some of the oil seeps out, it isn't going to be all over my counter.  It has never happened, but, you never know... 
I like to pound my chicken out a little, before I cook it, not to make it super thin, but to make it an even thickness.  Food that are all the same size/same thickness, cook the same, and food that cooks the same makes for evenly cooked food!  Make sense?  I like to put my chicken in zip top bags, and gently pound them out a little, so that the mess is easily contained.  You can see the difference here, between the chicken breast that has been pounded out, and the one that hasn't been.  It is, however, a side benefit that a chicken breast that has been pounded out will cook a little faster! 

Once your chicken has been pounded out, season it simply with some Kosher salt, garlic powder, and paprika.
Wow!  Look how amazing this garlic turned out!  I like to save the oil, which has now become a garlic infused olive oil, and use it to sear the chicken off with.  Its there, and tasty, why not use it? 

Preheat your skillet over medium high heat, put the garlic infused oil in, and sear the chicken breast, for 7 minutes, on each side.  Then pull the chicken out, and set it aside.  There will be lots of lovely flavor left in the pan!  Don't touch it!  We're going to build the alfredo sauce out of this!  Keep the pan hot, toss the mushrooms in, and let them cook for about 5-7 minutes.   Get a large pot of water on the stove, and bring it up to a boil for your pasta.


If you want a less garlic-y flavor, leave the cloves whole; however, I like the roasted garlic flavor, so I just smash the roasted cloves between two spoons, for them to melt into the sauce.   

Once your mushrooms are finished to your liking, pour the heavy cream into the pan, and let it very gently simmer for about 15 minutes, slowly reducing.  I don't add any salt or seasonings to this sauce; the Parmesan cheese adds all of the salt that I need, but feel free to add it to your taste!   
At this point, your water for your pasta should be boiling; if you are using boxed pasta, put it in at this point.  If you're using fresh pasta like I am, you don't need to put it into the water until after your sauce is finished, because it literally takes about 2 minutes to cook. 

Once your heavy cream has thickened to the point of passing the finger-through-the-sauce test, start to add your Parmesan cheese in, about 1/4 C at a time.  If you add it in too much too fast, or all at once, your sauce will seize and the cheese will just clump together and this will just be a hot mess.  Not yummy.
 The combination of the cream reducing, and the cheese are the only things that thicken this sauce.  There are no roux's, no corn starch slurry, no fancy tricks.  That's it.  Just keep adding in the cheese, 1/4 of a cup at a time, stirring almost constantly, so the cream doesn't burn.

Once all of your cheese is in, your sauce is finished!  Taste it at this point, and add salt if you want some, and pepper if you want it.  I wouldn't use black pepper; I would recommend using white pepper, so it blends in with the sauce.
Add your fettuccine to the sauce, and fresh chopped parsley (if you want it.  I like the pop of green it gives this dish, but it is optional), and make sure it is mixed well!  I like to do this with tongs, but feel free to use whatever you'd like, of course!  Look how creamy this is!  Don't you want to dive in and go swimming in it? 
Since I was making this for supper, my lighting was awful when I was trying to take these pictures, but this sauce is so amazingly creamy and the flavor is so lovely.  You can easily leave the chicken off of this recipe, or substitute in another protein (shrimp would be delightful!).  
I like to slice my chicken breast, and place it over the top of my fettuccine, but feel free to add it however you would like!  I really hope you give this a try.  It is so easy, and looks (and tastes) so impressive!