I am really falling in love with Italia. The cuisine, the culture, the language the very notorious Casanova, the architecture....its absolutely incredible. This is a new phase I'm going through. I went through the same phase for the the French culture and language and literature and I did learn quite a lot about it. I haven't gotten a chance yet to go and visit these beautiful places but I'm already so deeply in love with them.
I want to explore more about them. I want to learn as much as I can.
When I saw the movie 'Eat, Pray, Love' for the first time, I was as enchanted with the Italian food and way of life as Julia Roberts was. When she slurped the spaghetti, I could almost smell it all the way here. Here being India, my beloved home. When she sat eating the huge margherita pizza and discussing how she and her friend were putting on weight, I thought, well who wouldn't with this kind of fabulous food! Food that I wanted to make, eat, share and relish.
Anyway, I said all of the above, just to make a very simple point. I love Italian food. Pastas and Pizzas are my ultimate favourites. I try to be as authentic as I can with the limitation of real ingredients.
Today I got to cooking this really delicious Fettuccine con Panna e pollo which translates to creamy Fettuccine with Chicken. Now you'd probably say why couldn't I simply say Fettuccine Alfredo! The reason being that there is no such thing in Italy as Fettuccine Alfredo. Read this article and you'll know what I'm talking about. I happened upon this article while I was searching for an authentic Fettuccine Alfredo. Now how could I find one when it actually doesn't even exist!?!?
But if you want an authentic pasta in a creamy white sauce, you'll have to make a Fettuccine con panna. I wanted to add a protein to it and I chose chicken. You could also use shrimp/ fish. You need it to be delicate in flavour to complement the beautiful rich sauce.
On to the recipe then!
Time: 30 mins
1 lb Fettuccine or tagliatelle
1 cup cream (preferably full fat)
2/3 cup milk
1 cup shredded parmesan (freshly grated highly recommended for authenticity)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 nutmeg grated
3 tbsp butter, divided 1+2
2 chicken thighs, boneless
1 tbsp Garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tbsp all purpose flour
Pinch of love
First you want to heat a pan with high borders that can contain all the pasta later. Add 1 tbsp butter to the pan and set it on a low flame till the butter melts and the pan in heated through. Meanwhile, season the cleaned chicken thighs. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper on one side and then dust some flour on it to make a fine coating on the chicken. Repeat for the other side.
Now the butter should be melted and turning almost golden in colour. IT will have a nutty aroma. This is when you add the chicken thighs to it. They should really sizzle. Cook the chicken each side for about 5-6 minutes till they are golden brown and cooked through.
You can tell that the chicken is cooked if it is no longer pink in colour. The beautiful garlicky aroma should be flooding your kitchen right about now. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. The insides will be melting soft and it will have a delicious flavourful crispy crust.
Now to cook the pasta, have water at a rolling boil. Add 1 tsp salt to it and a few drops of olive oil so it doesn't stick. Drop in your pasta and let it cook for the given time period. Make sure you cook it 'al dente' or 'firm to the bite'.
Onto the creamy sauce. In the same pan in which you cooked the chicken, yes the very same, we don't want all those yummy flavours and chicken juices to go to waste, add the rest of the butter. Keep the flame on low. We don't want the butter to brown now. As soon as it is almost melted, add the cream to it along with half the milk. Give it a stir. Add the cheese as well. Stir till all the cheese has melted. Add pepper and nutmeg. Give it a taste. Add salt only if you feel you need it because parmesan in salty and pasta is also cooked in salty water. So don't overdo the salt. (The pics that I took for making the sauce somehow turned up greyish pink in colour, so I'm not going to put them on here)
Simmer this mixture for about 3-4 minutes till everything comes together. If the mixture is too gloppy, add the rest of the milk. (Can you see the grated cheese?)
Save about a cup of pasta water and drain the rest. Toss pasta with the sauce or you can serve sauce on top. You use this extra water to wet the pasta if it gets too thick or dry.
Place the pasta on the plate, top it with the delicious garlicky chicken, and add that creamy sauce. Snip a little parsley on top if you want. Very little though, just to make it look all pretty. I had it with my Pink Delight and buttered garlic bread. Serve piping hot with you pinch of love and Indulge! :))