I cooked with wine for the first time ever in my life a few days ago. And I didn’t even buy the wine – it was given to me because it was given to one of my friends and she didn’t want it. So yay! for free wine!! 🙂 I decided to make this recipe because I saw the ‘mac and cheese’ part of the title and immediately wanted to try it. Unfortunately, the sauce doesn’t actually have any cheese in it, so unless you sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of the pasta when it’s all done (which I recommend) it’s not so much mac and cheese. It’s still good. It’s a little involved, with all the chopping and julienning, but it’s worth it. Oh, and it calls for a pound of pasta, but I’m pretty sure I only used half a pound, or whatever half a box of mini fusilli pasta is, and it was plenty!! I think if I had made the entire box, there wouldn’t have been enough sauce to go around.
- 2 whole Shallots, Finely Chopped
- 5 cloves Garlic, Finely Chopped
- 1 whole Zucchini, Julienned
- 1 whole Medium Carrot, Julienned
- 2 whole Chicken Breasts, Trimmed
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- ¾ cups Dry White Wine
- ¾ cups Chicken Stock
- 1-¼ cup Cream
- ⅓ cups Pasta Water Reserved
- 1 pound Pasta (fusilli Is Great, But Spaghetti Or Angel Hair Are A Fun Twist Too)
Finely chop the shallots and garlic, then set aside. Cut the zucchini into 1/4-inch medallions, then into 1/4 inch strips and set them aside. Peel the carrot and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Halve each piece lengthwise, then slice them into 1/4 inch matchsticks and set aside.
Trim the chicken breasts and separate the fillet. Season both sides of all 4 pieces with salt and pepper.
Fill a large pot of water and set it on the stovetop to boil. Heat a large skillet to high heat. (The recipe recommended stainless steel for a better fond, which I happened to have, so I used that instead of my non-stick pan.) Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and let that heat up. Place the chicken in, “show side” down. Make sure the pieces have a bit of oil on them to help caramelize, and then leave them alone for 2-4 minutes. When they’ve got a nice brown crust, turn them over and brown the other side for 2-3 minutes.
Note: The pan will probably be very hot. Watch carefully so that you don’t burn the chicken and turn it down to medium-high heat.
Remove the chicken to a clean cutting board to rest. It’s not cooked yet, but it will finish cooking when it gets mixed back into the sauce. Cooking it in the two stages keeps it from drying out.
Add the pasta to the water, and give it a stir. Cook the pasta until 1-2 minutes before al dente (according to the instructions for the pasta). It’s going to continue to cook when it’s added to the sauce. Drain and set aside. Don’t forget to reserve 1/3 of a cup of the pasta water!
Put the skillet back on the stove at medium-high heat. Add another tablespoon of olive oil. Drop in the garlic and shallots. Season with salt and pepper. Stir regularly until golden brown. Add ¾ cup white wine and deglaze the pan. Make sure to scrape up all the fond. Continue to let the sauce simmer and when the liquid has reduced to about a third or a half of what it originally was, add in the chicken stock. Reduce the liquid again to about a third or a half.
While reducing the sauce, use tongs and a sharp knife to slice the chicken into strips, and then into bite-sized pieces.
Add 1 ¼ cups cream to the sauce, and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Add the carrots and the chicken. Stir and bring to a boil. This is important to finish cooking the chicken. Keep it boiling and stir occasionally over the next two minutes to make sure that the chicken is cooked through. Stir in half the pasta water you set aside. Add the pasta, and mix it all together. Throw the zucchini pieces in and give everything a final stir.
The next couple of minutes are crucial – the pasta will still be cooking and absorbing liquid and this is when the overall creaminess of your dish will be determined. If it is too thick, add remaining pasta water or wine or stock. If it is too thin, let it reduce. If its not rich enough, add more cream and reduce. You be the judge. Just be patient, the pasta will absorb liquid. Check every 30 seconds, give it a mix to see if it’s the way you like it. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve it with some Parmesan sprinkled over the top.