Friday, January 21, 2011

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

not the best picture - it's really saucier !!
There are probably a million variations on this dish...all (okay, most) of them delicious. I mean, even the names are confusing - most people would call this Chicken, Broccoli and Ziti, or Chicken, Broccoli and Penne...but since the variation I usually make is the cream sauce one - and since I don't always use ziti or penne - Chicken Broccoli Alfredo it is. Except...there are probably a million versions of Alfredo sauce too. Technically, mine is a cream or white sauce, since it starts with flour and butter. I have to do it that way, because Mark likes "Alfredo" sauce super thick. All I can tell you is that whatever you want to call this works for me...and that's what this dish does : works. It's been a staple here for years for a good reason - everyone loves it.

see ?

There are actually two ways to make this at my house...method du jour depends on how much time and/or kitchen help I have. I give you the very slightly more involved version first...this is easy enough to do on your own, but very enjoyable to do with help. Tonight Mark sauteed the chicken and broccoli, Alex grated the cheese, and I made the sauce and pasta. I love family kitchen night :).

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

1 pound pasta
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups cream
salt, grated nutmeg and/or cayenne pepper (optional)
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
4 cups broccoli florets
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced into 1/4 inch thick chunks
2 tsp minced garlic
olive oil for pan
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, make sauce : melt butter in good-sized saucepan over medium heat and whisk in flour. Whisk in milk, a little at a time, then add cream all at once and whisk well. Simmer 5 - 10 minutes, whisking often, until thick. Add seasonings to taste....definitely salt, a small sprinkle of nutmeg, and a few grains of cayenne (you're not trying to make the sauce spicy - just warms up the flavors. Although if you do like spicy, you can add a good amount of chipotle and make a very different - but still tasty - dish. ).

While sauce is simmering, make chicken and broccoli : heat oil in a saute pan, saute chicken and garlic (seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper) together until done, then saute broccoli in the same pan until done.

Combine pasta, sauce, chicken and broccoli in large bowl or pot. Pass extra Parmesan at the table.

Optional Method

The other way of doing this, if you're somewhat pressed for time...make pasta and sauce as directed, but add the broccoli to the pot with the pasta for the last minute or so of cooking, then drain everything together. Leave the chicken breasts whole, and when you start the pasta start the chicken poaching in a separate pan (cover with chicken stock, bring almost to a boil, turn down to a really low simmer for 20 minutes or so until done). Drain, and cut up the chicken before mixing with the other components of the dish.

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