Chicken Alfredo

Dark Days

This is my third attempt at making homemade pasta. I am getting closer each time. I will do a quick run through on how I made the pasta. It’s very similar to the way I did it a couple weeks ago.

I used 1 pint of spelt flour and 4 eggs. I dumped out the flour on the counter and made a well in the center of it and put 2 eggs in. I combined the eggs and the flour with a fork. Seeing that I needed more liquid I added 2 more eggs. I combined the mixture and started to form a ball. At this point I looked at what I was doing: I had a pint of flour and 4 eggs on my counter, it looked pretty messy and I was wondering if it would turn out. The ball formed and I rolled that out as best I could on a very floured surface. When it got to be about 3ft long I cut it in thirds. For each of those thirds I rolled them out to about 2-2.5 feet. I then folded them in half three times and cut them as thin as I could. I fluffed the noodles up, unfolding them, and put them in a bowl. I set the bowl aside and started on the rest of the dish.

I browned the chicken breasts in a frying pan. I seasoned them with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and rosemary. I took them out of the pan and let them rest for 10 minutes. Then I cut them in bite size pieces and put them back in the frying pan for another minute on medium heat.

To make the sauce I melted 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium sauce pan and added 3 cloves of mined garlic. I let that cook for 3 minutes and added 3/4 of a pint of heavy cream. I seasoned that with dried parsley then added 1/4 pound of cream cheese. I let that melt, just come up to a boil and I shut off the heat.

Before I plated the noodles I pan fried them for a couple minutes to ‘help’ them taste better?! The noodles just didn’t do it for me.

At this point I dished up some noodles, added some chicken, put some sauce on the top and added salt and pepper.

The chicken and the sauce were very good. The chicken was tender and the rosemary was a very nice touch. The sauce was garlic, butter, heavy cream and cream cheese; How couldn’t that be good?

The noodles: I made them myself, they tasted like whole wheat noodles, the texture was different, they were not uniform (I’m not a machine),  I coated them with sunflower oil,  I don’t know! They were noodles but the were just not that good. I think I will have to try a different flour… Maybe something more Italian?

Overall I think that this was a success. It was local (beyond the spices) and homemade. I learned a few tricks on making the pasta. I also learned I can make a good Alfredo sauce. Kristina thought it was very good. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on my noodles.

Notes for next time-

The meal is cooked, the post is made and in the editing process. I Google ‘homemade pasta’ and find out that The Pioneer Women has a recipe. I used this website for my braised short ribs. I looked at the recipe for her pasta and learn I didn’t knead my pasta ball long enough. I will know for next time. Dude, that’s frustrating! The joys of cooking and allowing others to see your mistakes.

French Toast

It was down to two recipes this week for the Dark Days Challenge: French Toast or Chicken Alfredo. I chose the french toast and I’m thinking of doing the chicken alfredo next week. I did make a run to the co-op for bread and bacon. I got the bacon from Pastures A Plenty and the sourdough bread from New French Bakery.

I am a pancake man and I have always been a pancake man… or boy when I was younger. I have made french toast a time or two in my life but I normally stick with pancakes. I might just have to switch over to french toast. It is a lot easier to make and it feeds that same craving. I made the batter for the bread with some half&half and 2 eggs. I cut the bread into 1/4″ slices and dipped it into the batter. It cooked pretty fast. While doing that I baked the bacon at 350. When I cooked all the french toasted I cooked a couple eggs for the fun of it.

I normally don’t eat breakfast and I haven’t had a fried egg in a long time. It was a very nice treat. The sourdough was wonderful! The bacon topped with some local maple syrup…yum. Amara even had a couple slices of the french toast.

Pasta

Growing up I would ask my parents to make lasagna and they always told me no. I asked why and they said it was too difficult to make. As an adult, I have never made lasagna because I thought it would be too difficult to make. You have: meat and sauce and noodles and cheese and more cheese and baking and left overs… Well for one of my Dark Days post I would like to make a lasagna from scratch. Well, as unprocessed as possible; meaning I need to make my own noodles. I guess I won’t try to make the cheese…this time!

I found a couple videos on Youtube to make your own pasta. Man, there are some fancy pasta makers out there! I don’t have a pasta maker, so I am doing it by hand. This year I really would like to get two things for my kitchen. 1. A Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Yes… I know, it is a must have. I need the ice cream maker attachment too… I have some wild ideas! 2. A dutch oven. A Lodge cast iron 7 quart dutch oven to be specific. I do most of my cooking on cast iron.

Back to the pasta. The recipe is like 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 egg and salt. Mix the flour and salt, add a beaten egg and mix up until it makes a ball. Then knead for a couple minutes and roll out to as thin as you want. Finally cut it into noodles. Simple stuff. I made pasta once like this and I can remember not being too impressed.

I think it’s funny that when we think of pasta it’s always the cheap dried crap down the grocery aisle. You can pick up a pound of dried pasta noodles for a buck. There is the whole wheat kind or the fancy imported kind for around two bucks. That’s it. It seams like they all taste the same. I have never known anyone to regularly make their own noodles.

If you can get a recipe that works for you, think of some of the possibilities: Stuffed ravioli- OK, you could do a traditional thing like spinach and olive oil. BUT what if you got crazy and did a wild green and wild mushroom stuffed ravioli. Or another possibility- You are at home you want a spaghetti and you don’t have noodles. You would have the know how to make a quick batch of noodles. (Not to mention Asian stuff or soups!)

My noodles turned out. They were a little too thick. They would have made a good noodle for an Alfredo, but not for spaghetti. I thought I rolled them out pretty thin… I will need to experiment with different flours too. I cooked them for 3 minutes and tossed them with some butter, olive oil, salt, pepper and Parmesan. It made for a quick meal and a good first attempt on noodle making. I am one step closer to that local lasagna. Maybe I should have my parents over for dinner that night…

Roast Chicken

I have had two chicken in my freezer for months. One that I processed last summer and the other one I got at the co-op late last summer. Buying local meat can get expensive. Buying whole chickens makes more sense than buying a cut up chicken or chicken breasts. But then you are left with a whole chicken you need to cut up or cook. Let’s face it: The more an animal is processed the easier it is to eat. If I had to cut those short ribs off a cow carcass last week there is no way I would have enjoyed them.
When planning this meal I knew I had all the ingredients. One of the cool things about eating locally is that your pantry, freezer and frig fills up with local food. I didn’t have to make my lovely trip to the co-op to make this meal.

Roast Chicken! That’s where I started. I know you need a chicken, a oven, a pan of some sort, some butchers twine and some spices. But how long does the chicken cook and at what temperature? That’s where my idol, Anthony Bourdain comes in. He made a ‘Techniques Special’ for No Reservations. I did a youtube search and found the roast chicken clip. Thomas Keller walked me through how to simply roast a chicken. Then I went to my kitchen to put it to practice.

I did it a little different than Thomas Keller did. I cut up some veggies to roast with the bird. I cut up a carrot, two onions, and three potatoes…all local. I added them to my cast iron cooking pan. Then I added some butter and a drizzle of sunflower oil. Then I went to cut the wishbone out of my chicken and found it was already gone. I rinsed it out and seasoned it generously with salt and pepper.

I plopped the chicken on top of the veggies and went to find my butchers twine. No luck! I have three young daughters that like to make girly things, such as necklaces and bracelets. Stuff I don’t understand being a raised with no siblings. So somewhere a pretty little doll is wearing my butchers twine. I use the butchers twine to truss the chicken so the bird evenly cooks. You basically tie the legs and the wings into the body. Finally I tossed it in my oven at 400… without being trussed!

I took the wonderful-ness out of the oven and set in on the counter. It cooked for about 45 minutes. It smelled and looked done. I put a thermometer in it and it was at 180, so it was plenty done.  I picked at a few potatoes while letting the chicken set for 10 minutes. I cut off a breast and plated some veggies. At this point is when you are happy you took out that wishbone. Taking the wishbone out helps get those wonderful breasts off the bird easier.

I sat down at the table and gave out nothing but grunts of approval. It was very good. It was up there with the braised short ribs. What made it so good was the quality of the local free range chicken and the butter I put over the veggies.