“Pappardelle” comes from the Italian “to gobble up” which I think is the perfect description of what you will do as soon as this bowl full of creamy chicken pasta is put into your eagerly awaiting hands. Rich, indulgent, creamy, soothing. These are the themes of my cooking right now, no matter what I’m up to – I’ve got a rather major exam coming up next March and the pressure of having the final hurdle to jump before I’m finally finished with my training is weighing hard on me. So hard in fact, it’s driving me forward to the kitchen, to
procrastinate get creative and feed my soul and recharge my brain, ready for more studying. This delicate pasta dish is exactly what I need when I just have to switch my brain off when I can’t face reading another word about oral disease and it’s management. When I’m studying (or researching blog related matters like reading up on photography or surfing the web for inspiration), I can become so focussed and all consumed by the task in hand, sometimes I just need to have a complete about turn to give me a sense of perspective again. It refuels me and I’m ready to go again.
When I’m making this dish of a weekend, I just love to make my own pasta for it. I roll out primrose yellow sheets of durum wheat pasta and cut with a knife into thick ribbons and every single time I make fresh pasta, I am freshly amazed at how much is swells on cooking. This Creamy Parmesan Chicken Pasta is almost a poultry version of a carbonara and it is every bit as delicious as that sounds. There is something so much more delicate about making fresh pasta I highly recommend you try it, as good though dried pastas can be (and I love Garofalo) it is definitely different to the fresh stuff. If you can’t make some for yourself, just pick up a packet from the chiller at your local supermarket – it’s really worth the stop off on the way home. When I’m in Italian mama mode and make my own, I do it soon after breakfast on a Saturday or Sunday and allow it to dry all day meaning that come dinner time, getting a meal on the table is a matter of minutes away. Like gnocchi, fresh pasta takes barely 2-3 minutes to cook – far less time than the sauce, which takes about 15 minutes to put together. All in all, a very short amount of time for something so wonderful to eat.
- 200g tipo 00 flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Fat pinch of sea salt
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- 1 large chicken breast, sliced into 5 mm thick slices
- 125 ml white wine
- 25g Parmesan, finely grated
- 60 ml double cream
- Cracked black pepper and a little fresh parsley, chopped to serve
- If making your own pasta, place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor with the dual blades in and pulse until it comes together in damp crumbs (or knead it all together by hand in a large bowl).
- Bring together to a smooth ball and wrap in clingfilm, chilling until needed (from 30 minutes to 2 days maximum).
- Pass your pasta through a pasta roller until it is much thinner and longer - I like to take it down 4 or 5 settings on my machine and it is very thin at this point (remember fresh pasta swells a lot on cooking).
- Rub a little extra flour on your prepared pasta and gently fold up and slice into 1-1.5cm thick ribbons, unwind them and hang up to dry (I used coat hangers on my kitchen cupboard doors for years before I had an official pasta airer!). Leave until dry to touch - I leave it at least half an hour.
- When ready to cook, put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
- In a large frying/sauté pan, add the oil and heat on medium. Add the garlic then follow a minute later with the chicken. Turn the heat down and cook for approx 8 minutes until just cooked through. You want to go slow and low to produce soft, succulent and tender chicken and you certainly don't want the garlic to burn.
- Pop the pappardelle on at this point - it should take about 2-3 minutes to cook (it will swell and rise up to the surface of the water when ready but do taste a strand to be sure).
- Push the chicken to one side and turn the heat up a little before pouring in the wine and allowing to bubble and reduce a little.
- Stir in the cheese and follow with the cream and coat the chicken well before adding the pasta to the chicken - I use a pasta spoon (like a ladle with big wide teeth!) and transfer directly to the sauce, so I have the cooking water there, to be added to the sauté pan if needed to loosen up the sauce. You will probably need around 125 ml as the pasta will suck up the cheesy, winey cream as you stir it through the chicken.
- Divide into pasta bowls and season with black pepper and parsley to serve.
- This is such a simple dish I can't recommend using free range and if possible organic chicken more - white meat doesn't have any flavour in battery farmed chickens, a product of the dreadful lives they are forced to live. And do use a white wine you'd enjoy to drink, as cheap plonk will leave an overpowering taste to this delicate dish!