1 November 2017

Manchego chicken Alfredo - super quick, two pot supper

This bowl of chickeny, cheesy, garlicky and creamy delight could almost be called a one pot supper, but regrettably the pasta needed to be cooked in its own pan - hence it became a two pot deal.  However, that in no way slows it down, oh no.  The sheer simplicity of the ingredients makes this as speedy a dinner to produce as any you could wish for.

With no onions to chop, no veggies to peel or slice, the only preparation that's required is to peel and chop some garlic, cut some chicken in half, grate some cheese and chop a bit of parsley.  I certainly can't claim that's in any way difficult - and oh boy, does it pay off by way of flavour!  Alfredo de Lelio, you sure knew what you were doing when you put the original dish together, all those years ago in 1892.


However, I suspect Mr de Lelio would be horrified to learn that I have removed the quintessentially Italian Parmesan cheese from the recipe and submitted, instead, a Spanish replacement - the gorgeous Manchego hard cheese.  Being a sheep's cheese, Manchego has a very different flavour to Parmesan, but equally there are similarities in both texture and colour plus they both melt in a similar way.

Son and heir is passionately opposed to Parmesan - he can't bear the after taste it brings with it, so consequently I was committed to finding a replacement for it or not indulging in pasta Alfredo at all.  I was intending on using Grana Padano, but having recently used some Manchego in cheese scones with every success, I decided to give it a go and I'm so glad I did.

So there we are.  A bit of a different spin on pasta Alfredo, but super tasty and super quick to make, too.  If, perchance, you can't find any Manchego but like the sound of the recipe and don't have anyone at home passionately opposed to Parmesan, then by all means use Parmesan.  You won't be harming the recipe at all, you'll simply be returning it back to its roots.

I only have one Cook's Tip for you, which is that when you drain the pasta make sure to keep some of the pasta water close by.  If (as sometimes happens), the sauce becomes too gloopy and thick, simply add a little of the pasta water.  Far better to use that than add more cream, or milk, or have to mix up some chicken stock.

Onwards to the recipe!

MANCHEGO CHICKEN ALFREDO   Serves 2

Ingredients :

250g small, open style pasta such as Conchiglie shells
1 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved horizontally
sea salt & black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
200ml dry white wine
250ml single cream
50ml double cream
half a tsp good quality chicken stock powder (or half a chicken stock cube)
125g Manchego cheese, grated finely
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped.

Method :

Bring a good quantity of salted water to the boil in a large saucepan and cook the Conchiglie shells to manufacturer's recommendation, draining once cooked.

In a large frying pan, heat the rapeseed oil and melt the butter over a high heat.

Season the two halves of each chicken breast with both sea salt & black pepper and carefully place into the frying pan.  Fry the chicken until it is a deep golden brown on both sides and cooked through.

Remove the pan from the heat and decant the chicken onto a warmed plate.  Cut the chicken into even sized slices and reserve to keep warm.

Replace the pan onto a reduced heat and add the garlic.  Stir and cook gently until the garlic is softened and lightly golden.  Add the wine (and a little bit extra for luck is definitely allowed) and allow to bubble and reduce by one third.

Add the single and double creams along with the chicken stock powder and stir gently to combine.  Once the sauce has heated through, is bubbly and slightly thickened, add the grated cheese, most of the parsley, the hot, drained pasta and sliced chicken.  Toss everything in the sauce until all is well combined.  Taste for seasoning and add more pepper if necessary.

Serve into warmed bowls with a sprinkle of the reserved parsley on top as garnish.


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