I made this, oh, like three weeks ago, I think.
I planned to blog this recipe back then. But it didn’t happen.
Anyway. I love this recipe. Alfredo is divine, and then with vegetables and chicken? Perfection.
I’ve made alfredo several different ways, but this is the one I settled on. It has always yielded consistent results for me. Consistently delicious.
This recipe is very versatile and can be made with whatever veggies float your boat. Or none, if you’re anti-vegetable. And you can leave the chicken out if you’re vegetarian. Or try it with shrimp. Or the Easiest Chicken Ever. Seriously, you can do all sorts of things with this dish.
Anyway. Let’s get started. I used 4 chicken tenders, but you could just as easily use 2 chicken breasts. Boneless skinless would be easiest. If you want it chickenier (totally made-up word) you can use more, but you might want to double the marinade if you make a lot more.
For the marinade, whisk together the juice of 2 lemons (I only had 1 lemon this time, so I juiced the heck out of it. It was still ok, but not quite as lemony as I like) along with 2 tablespoons each honey, Dijon mustard and olive oil, as well as a teaspoon of soy sauce. Stick your chicken in it and turn the pieces to coat in the marinade.
(I thawed mine in the microwave, which is why it looks kind of odd..)
Stick the marinating chicken in the fridge for at least an hour, and up to overnight.
When it comes time to make the rest of the dish, put a large pot of salted (salted!) water on the stove to boil.
Now you’ll want to turn to your vegetables. I chose carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Peel your carrots. I had super skinny carrots so I used a bunch.
You’ll want about 1 1/2-2 cups when they’re cut up.
Here’s a trick for cutting them up, if you feel like being a little fancy.
Make a cut at a 45 degree angle.
Then turn the carrot a quarter turn (so the cut side is now facing up.)
Now make a cut at a 45 degree angle again.
Then you end up with these carrot chunks. I’ve been told they cook more evenly this way than if you slice them. Something having to do with more consistent surface area. Or so I’m told.
Now you’ll need to throw these in a steamer.
I generally use frozen broccoli and cauliflower because they’re easier to keep on hand, but fresh is certainly great if you have it. I find that, at least with frozen, they cook in a little less time than the carrots so I let the carrots go for 3-5 minutes before I put the other veggies in.
(Note: I think you could probably also use frozen carrots if you want… but frozen carrots are yuck if you ask me.)
You’re shooting for having equal parts of each veggies, but there’s no need to get too concerned about it. I just pour from the bag until it looks about even.
While that’s going, grate up about 1 cup of parmesan cheese.
Ok, let me be straight with you.
You can use the pre-grated stuff. You know, the stuff in the green plastic container. You can. In fact, when I first started making homemade alfredo, I did. But then I tried the real stuff. There is no comparison. The intensity of the flavor in the fresh cheese blows the pre-grated stuff out of the water. Plus, I wonder what they have to do to cheese to make it not spoil at room temperature for months and months. A little creepy, no?
Oh, also, don’t buy the stuff in the refrigerated section that has been shredded up for you. I made that mistake once. In order to keep it from sticking together, they have to put a coating on it that will mess up the consistency of your sauce.
Ok, now that we’ve gotten that all taken care of…
Keep an eye on your vegetables. You want to take them out of the steamer when they’re tender-crisp. They should still be brightly colored.
When your water comes to a rolling boil, add 1 pound of pasta. You can really use just about any pasta you like. Fettucine would be a classic choice, but I generally like to use a short pasta. Just a personal preference. Use whatever makes you happy. Or whatever you have in your pantry.
I chose medium shells this time. I like how they hold onto the sauce in their little “cups.”
Oh! Now would be a good time to fire up your grill and start cooking up your chicken.
<<insert picture of grilling chicken here>>
<<oh, wait, I forgot to take one.>>
Ok, so now it’s time to make the sauce.
You’ll start by making a roux. So in a medium saucepan, melt 1/4 cup (or half a stick) of butter.
Please disregard the wooden spoon. You’ll need a whisk for this.
When the butter is melted and bubbly, add 1/4 cup flour.
Whisk this constantly for a few minutes, or until it turns golden brown. Do not let it burn.
Add 1 1/2 cups heavy cream. If you’re feeling health-conscious, you can use half-and-half. If you’re feeling extraordinarily health conscious, you could use whole milk… or maybe even 2%. But it just won’t be the same.
Continue to whisk constantly until the mixture thickens somewhat. Keep in mind that the cheese will thicken it further, so don’t make it quite as thick as you want your final product. Turn off the heat and salt and pepper to taste.
Add the cheese.
Stir it up until the cheese is melted and the sauce comes together.
Drain the pasta when it is al dente and mix the pasta with the vegetables and pour the sauce over the top.
Mix it all up together.
Secret (ok, not so secret) tip: you can reserve a little bit of the pasta water to thin out your sauce if after you mix it together you find it’s too thick. Just add it a little at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
Serve it up with the chicken. You slice up the chicken and mix it in with the rest or serve it up on top. Or on the side. Or on the bottom. Or inside out. (huh?) Whatever puts a smile on your face.
Mmm. This puts a smile on my face every time I make it.
It’s so tasty.
It’s also amazing if you have a bit of fresh basil to chiffonade and sprinkle over the top. But my basil is still currently in seedling stage. Sigh. Maybe later this summer.
This makes a huge amount of food, more than my husband and I can eat at once. But with sauces like this, it’s difficult to heat it up again and keep the integrity of the sauce intact. So here’s what I do:
I reserve some of the sauce in a little Tupperware. Then when it’s time to reheat my leftovers, I get them nice and hot, then take this out of the fridge and put it right in, cold. That way it warms slowly and it won’t separate like it would if it were microwaved. Works every time.
Oh, and don’t forget to serve it with Garlic Bread To Die For!