I've been working on my meats. Meat is generally not the forefront of the dishes I make, both from its cost and my current lack of skill when cooking it. But, since I've been reading more cookbooks as of late, I've been learning techniques for better meat.
Since I promised an alfredo sauce, I decided to try out a chicken and broccoli alfredo.
I made sure to fry the chicken over medium-high heat, a lot hotter than I usually do, to try to get the nice, brown crust that has all that wonderful flavor. A little bit of garlic and olive oil, and I think it turned out pretty well. So, I'm going to keep trying to mix it up a bit.
Also, instead of boiling the broccoli in a covered pot with some water, I simply pan-fried it until it was tender. It remained a lot crunchier than the boiling method, and the slightly brown bits are tasty.
It took a bit to figure out the right amount of cheese, but I finally nailed it. More cheese is always better than less cheese, as long as it's still a sauce.
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 tbsp. flour
- 2 c. milk
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1 c parmesan cheese
- or 1/2 c parmesan and 1/2 c romano
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. boneless chicken breasts
- 1 lb. broccoli florets
- 1 lb. rotini pasta
- Other shapes work just as well
Prepare the chicken by trimming off any excess fat, then cutting into strips. Prepare the broccoli by cutting the florets off the stem. Cut larger florets in sections by cutting down through the stem. Making sure all the pieces are approximately the same size will ensure even cooking times.
Start boiling water to cook pasta according to package directions.
Mince the garlic. Heat pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and garlic to pan for a few minutes. Then, add the chicken and fry until a light brown crust forms, stirring occasionally.
While the chicken cooks, start the sauce by putting butter in a medium saucepan and melting over low head. When melted, add flour and whisk until combined. Heat until it turns slightly lighter and smells nutty, then add the milk and whisk until incorporated. Add black pepper, salt, and nutmeg. Turn heat to medium and heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Once thickened, add cheese and stir until melted.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove from pan and saute broccoli over medium heat until dark and tender.
Drain the pasta and return to pot. Add cheese and stir until combined. Add chicken and broccoli and stir until everything is coated.
Always do the cutting and mincing and measuring and stuff first. And cut the chicken last, because everything chicken touches must be washed before using again.
If you want more broccoli, the top parts of the stems can be cut and cooked along with the florets.
Slice off any large chunks of fat from the chicken before cutting it into strips.
Once everything's chopped, we can start cooking the chicken!
We want a nice golden crust on the chicken. Browning adds flavor!
While we wait for our chicken to brown, we can start the sauce. Alfredo starts with a béchamel, so we need a roux (butter and flour).
Once the roux is lightened and smells nutty, we can add the milk to start the sauce.
Do not let the sauce boil, but a gentle simmer may cause some bubbling.
Once the sauce is thickened, add the cheese!
Now that the chicken is brown, we can quickly sauté the broccoli.
If I learned anything today, it's that browning adds flavor.
Now, we can combine it all together.
Add a little bit of red pepper when serving for some spice!