The Journey Begins – Homemade Chicken Alfredo with garden tomatoes and basil

Thanks for joining me!  Like many strange things that happen in my life, I never thought I’d find myself writing about food, ESPECIALLY on this thing called a “blog”… but at the same time, I’m not surprised at anything I do anymore.

On a side note:  Does the word “blog” sound funny to anyone else, or is it just me?  It reminds me of ‘The Bog of Eternal Stench’ in the Labyrinth.  I’m going to call this a website instead.

(I ‘ramble on’ a lot like Led Zeppelin said to do.  If you lack patience, my recommendation would be to exit my page.  OR!  You can scroll all the way down for the full recipe.)

This is simple comfort food that I revisit often.   I typically make something like this when I’m craving pasta, creamy stuff, and savory deliciousness.  It’s cheap and easy.  Best served with a house salad and garlic bread.  If you want to add flare, throw in some steamed asparagus!

“All food is comfort food.  Maybe I just like to chew.” — Lewis Black

img_2602I’m going to start off with a picture of raw chicken breast in a salt brine.  Why?  I have a HUGE tip for you, that’s why!:  Brine your chicken.. even if it’s for 20 minutes, Just Do It.  Brine your chicken.. and not just this time, but every time you make chicken moving forward.  This easy step is often overlooked.  If done, it will make your chicken juicy and tender and be the difference between a “meh” dish or a memorable dish.

While your chicken is in the brine, take your sweetie to the garden and have her grab a garnish of tomato and fresh basil.  If you don’t have a sweetie, or if you don’t have fresh tomato/basil in a vegetable garden for that matter, then consult with the bottom drawer of your refrigerator.  If that guy also comes up empty-handed, then succumb to the fact that the garnish is not needed for your meal, but I do HIGHLY recommended it next time.

When I was in high school I worked at the Italian fast food chain Fazoli’s, and we used to put cold diced tomato on our hot fettuccine alfredo.  It’s delish!

So at this stage I’ve already baked the chicken at a VERY HIGH heat for a short amount of time.  This is how I achieve my most tender chicken!

I also boiled my Fusilli Jerry pasta to an al dente state.  If you don’t know what “Fusilli Jerry” means, then you’re dead to me… errr… Just kidding!  Please note:  Seinfeld helped to shape the person I am today (and pasta did too, apparently.). 

Anyway, see the picture of the pasta in my colander under running water?  You want your pasta to stop “cooking” after you’ve removed it from the hot boiling water, so run it under cool water for about 20 seconds to stop the cooking process.

Above (left) is garlic sauteed in butter.  NEVER overcook garlic.  If you overcook garlic it becomes bitter and it happens fast, so be careful.  I made a roux in this picture.  “Roux” is a fancy word for flour cooked in fat (I use animal fat, or butter) to create the base for a cream sauce… or gravy.  I make roux A LOT in my kitchen.

Now we’re up and running.  I just added a lot of heavy cream to the roux, and my secret ingredient… …which is …..:

FRESHLY GRATED NUTMEG. 

Yes, you read that correctly.  Nutmeg is a game changer here.  I buy whole nutmeg from Amazon, and I grate it myself.  I’m sure you have an old spice jar of Nutmeg in your cupboard.  Make sure not to skip this step (just like the brine!).

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Roughly half of a grated nutmeg seed ^^  🙂

My mom said it’s important to keep high quality aged Parmesan cheese in the kitchen.  My mom Shelly, coming from the Midwest, knows how to cook.  And I mean she REALLY REALLY knows how to cook.  If my mom says to stick a fancy wedge of cheese in the fridge drawer, I do it. 

That being said, this recipe calls for aged Parmesan.  Here it is grated, PLUS, shredded mozzarella (top right) for extra creaminess and fun.  Whisk it up and you’re done.  Your chicken is cooked, your pasta is in the colander,  and the sauce is done too.  Besides my commentary, this recipe is super simple.

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Some post-credit info:  We don’t waste ANYTHING in our house unless it’s necessary.  You’ll notice that all food scraps go to the animals, composter, garden beds, etc.  

Leftover veggies went to the ducks, and a large tomato was used the following day on what I like to refer to as “A TOMATO SANDWICH”.. Mom, you know what I’m talking about.  Toasted bread, heavy layer of Best Foods mayonnaise, thick cut ripe tomato slices, and S&P. 

You’d think I was raised in the Midwest like my mom was.  Nope.. Phoenix, Arizona actually.  Thanks for visiting. (recipe below)

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Two members of our flock, Fawn and Cheese ^^

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Next day lunch^^

Perfect Baked Chicken Breast

  • 3-4 large boneless skinless chicken breast
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
  • 1/4 C. Salt for Brine
  • Water

Pour roughly 4-5 cups of room temp water into a large bowl.  Stir in 1/4 cup of salt until mostly dissolved (I typically add whole peppercorns to the brine also, but that’s optional).  Add the chicken to the water.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, preferably an hour.

After you’ve brined the chicken, rinse and pat it dry.  Preheat the oven to 450*F.  Place your chicken in a large baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.  Make sure to cover both sides with a light coating of oil.  Do the same with S&P.

Bake the chicken uncovered for roughly 15-16 minutes (longer if needed depending on the oven).  Internal temp needs to reach 165*, but I always cut into the largest piece of breast to make sure it’s not pink (this is probably a no-no but I play by my own rules when it comes to food safety!).

And that’s it!  Your chicken is ready to go.  Place a foil dome over the top of it for at least 10 minutes and let the meat rest.

Homemade Alfredo Sauce

  • 16 oz pasta such as fettuccine or fusilli
  • 1/2 C. (1 stick) butter
  • 2 tsp. (2 cloves) minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 2 C. Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 C. Grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 C. Grated Mozzerella
  • 1/2 C. Diced tomato for garnish
  • Chopped basil for garnish

In a large non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Add garlic but be careful not to burn it cooking for roughly 45 seconds-ish.  You can tell when it’s ready because your kitchen will smell amazing.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Add flour to butter mixture and WHISK to make a roux like we discussed earlier.  Next, whisk in the salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Once the roux is creamy and and starting to bubble, whisk in 2 cups of heavy cream.  At this stage you want to tend to the skillet.  Whisk continuously until your cream mixture starts to thicken.  Once slightly thickened, whisk in the cheeses, one at a time.  That’s it!  Now set it aside with a lid on top until ready for use. 

Dice the tomato and basil and use as a garnish if desired.

Prepare pasta using the directions on the box.  Heavily salt the water!  Always test a sacrificial noodle before pouring your boiling water down the drain.  Once the pasta is in the colander, run it under cool water for a few seconds to stop the cooking process.

Now you can assemble your plate.  First noodles, then sauce, then garnish.  Throw a sliced chicken breast on top and Bon Appetit!

 

 

Author: farmtotabletosoul

Thanks for joining me! Good company always shortens the journey so I'm glad you're here. My name is Tara Benson and I'm 33 years young. I'm an energetic wife and mother with a wild imagination and a bold sense of humor. Consider me 100% right brained. I love music, art, interior design, gardening, baking, cooking, creating and hobby farming. I'm married to the best husband, Jason. It's safe to say we're opposites in many ways, but get along GREAT. We have two very intelligent and loving children, Owen (10) and Belle (4). I come from a huge family with three brothers, one sister and about a thousand others in the extended version. I'm also a mother to a mixed herd of animals (13 and counting...). I work in the mortgage industry from my home office. In 2015, my husband and I bought a 13 acre farm on the eastern plains of Colorado. We decided to live out our dreams and make the best of our lives for ourselves and our children. We want to teach them that hard work and creativity will always payoff at the end of the day. So welcome! Stick around a while and make yourself at home. -Tara

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