Pasta, like eggs, is personal for me. Growing up, the version of creamy pasta we were served at the continental joints were dotted with dried herbs and chilli flakes. It was comforting back in the day to be given a bowlful of these saucy white sauce noodles to tuck into, though I must admit that if I had it today, I’d probably not enjoy it as much. Not because I’m stuck up about the way I like my pasta, no. I’m pretty sure I enjoy “pink sauce pasta” more than any of you guys, but I just prefer fresher, herbier notes in my pasta than dishes that go heavy-handed on the dried oregano and chilli, and skip the parm altogether. If you want to create an Italian-inspired fusion dish, go the extra mile to find out what makes it tick.
In this Alfredo sauce, I cook chicken breasts in a flavourful base of white wine, leeks and garlic, then pull the meat and add a splash of cream to the remaining stock, finishing with a nice pat of butter and parmesan. There’s actually quite a bit of lovely wine in the dish so use a wine that you’d drink yourself. A good bottle of Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay is preferred, as are Pinot Grigio and Riesling. These are all dry styles of white wine.
Use pasta like linguine, tagliatelle, fettuccine or shell pasta (conchiglie) here which complement creamy sauces.
Creamy White Wine Chicken and Mushroom Alfredo
Yield 4 servings
Pasta with cream, much like macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food for me. Work quickly when finishing the pasta in the pan and don’t skimp on the butter and parmesan because that’s where all the extra bits of flavour are.
Vegetable oil 2 tbsp
Garlic 4 cloves, chopped
Bacon 100g cut into small bits (optional)
Leeks 3-4 small Indian ones or 1 large leek, sliced
Chicken breasts 500g
Button mushrooms 200g
Bay leaf 1, torn
White Wine 1/2 bottle
Cream 1/3 cup
Butter a few tablespoons
Parmesan 30g, grated, plus more to serve
Salt and pepper
Tagliatelle or any other long stringy pasta 500g
Put a saucepan or a Dutch oven to heat over a medium flame. Add the vegetable oil and add the bacon if using tossing it around till it starts to render its fat. To this fat, add the garlic cloves. If not using bacon, just proceed to add the garlic to the vegetable oil. Turn the heat down and let the garlic bits (and bacon) cook slowly for a few minutes before adding the sliced leek and turning the heat up sightly. Cook till the leeks are soft.
Add the chicken breasts and toss it around the pan before adding the mushrooms and torn bay leaf. Toss once again and add the white wine and a few large pinches of salt. Bring everything to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the chicken in the wine for 12-15 minutes or until the chicken breast is cooked through.
Drain the chicken breasts from the stock to stop it from overcooking and let it rest on the side, covered. Reduce the stock in the pan a bit further and splash in the cream followed by the butter and the parmesan. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Cook the pasta as per packet instructions in a separate pot filled with lots of salted boiling water. Drain the pasta when al-dente from its water using a ladle and spoon directly into the cream sauce, which should sit over low heat.
Turn the heat up now and working quickly, toss the pasta in the cream and any of its residual water until the sauce in the pan is thick. Add the chicken pieces and serve with more parmesan on the side and fresh crackings of black pepper.