All’ Alfredo is so easy I feel like I’m cheating when I make it, especially with such a huge flavor payoff. Being American, I feel silly calling it “All’ Alfredo” so I call it “Alfredo,” which probably sounds silly to Italians because that’s the name of its creator. “Hey, I’m having a big bowl of Ethan, you want some?” I officially apologize to all my Italian friends. But I’m still calling it Alfredo.
The original is quick and has only six ingredients; pasta, butter, cream, parmesan, salt and pepper. The downside is the fat and calories of a true Alfredo; it’s made with lots of heavy cream.
I have made an alternative with a combo of broth and lower fat milk. It’s tasty, but honestly, there’s just nothing that beats the creaminess of, well, cream. Plus, the time and effort involved in making a white sauce when compared to just pouring cream into a hot pan, well, you certainly won’t feel like you’re cheating. Each method has its pros and cons.
I like to add chicken and a veggie to mine for ease of serving, and because my family eats more vegetables when they’re part of a dish. This is one of our family’s favorite meals, especially my son Ethan.
Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli
The complete recipe is at the end, but don’t miss the technique tips with the pictures. There might be one or two new tricks for you. I’m trying to figure out how to link directly to the recipe, but I still don’t know how. For now, you’ll just have to scroll down.
First off, any time I cook I try to collect all of the ingredients, but especially when it’s a quick cooking dish like a stir-fry or this Alfredo. Of course, you don’t have to arrange them all pretty or make words float around them, and your family may look at you oddly if you do.
Next, get your pot of water for the pasta ready. My stove takes forever to bring water to a boil, so I start it right away. If the water boils before I’m ready for it, I turn it down to a simmer until the right time. The important thing is that the pasta doesn’t wait for the sauce.
Third, make sure everything is prepped and ready to go: broccoli is chopped into small florets, pasta is ready to be dropped into boiling, salted water…
…garlic is minced, cream and parmesan are measured, etc. If you want to measure your butter, that’s fine, too. I usually just cut pieces off as I go. I use less when I do it by sight.
Notice how the stuff that will be going into the pot of water is near that pot, and the stuff that will be going into the sauté pan is nearest that pan? It takes barely more time or thought to do, but it helps things go so much more smoothly to have everything arranged near where it will be needed.
In a large saute pan over medium to medium high heat, melt a little butter in olive oil, add the minced garlic, give the pan a couple shakes and start browning the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken with coarse salt and a couple grinds from the pepper grinder, and brown it about 6 minutes on each side. I cover the pan with a lid after turning the chicken to keep the juices from bubbling away.
I brown the chicken breasts whole rather than sliced or cubed. It’s a little tenderer and holds the juices in better. When the chicken is almost cooked through, remove it to a cutting board and cover it with foil or a pot lid. Let it rest for 5 minutes to redistribute the juices throughout the meat. Sure, it looks cool when the juices spurt out, but the more juice pours out, the less goes in my mouth; and I’m greedy!
Whisk in butter and cream and heat over medium.
If the pan juices have cooked onto the bottom of the pan, before adding cream and butter, add about ¼ cup chicken broth or white wine to sauté pan to deglaze. If you put a lid on after flipping the chicken, this will probably not be necessary.
Add the pasta to boiling, salted water.
Use a good amount of salt and don’t bother with oil. It just floats on top and does nothing to keep pasta from sticking to itself. Use a pot big enough for pasta to tumble in plenty of water, keep the temp high enough to maintain a rolling boil, and stir occasionally. This method works! My pasta always turns out great since I started doing it this way.
Here’s one of my favorite tricks. Years ago I had a beautiful big pot that had a pasta insert and a steamer basket. I lost it in one of our moves. I will someday replace it, but in the meantime, when the pasta timer reads 5 or 6 minutes left, I plop my metal colander of broccoli on top of the boiling pasta pot and put the lid on. It doesn’t seal, but it does steam the broccoli. It can boil over a bit, but it’s worth it for the convenience and the feeling of victory I get from outsmarting the system.
“What system?” You may ask. I don’t know. I just feel so rebellious, in a totally acceptable kind of way.
Back to the story. Notice the bubbling cream in the background? That’s my burner on Low! As in, I can’t go lower without turning it off. I say that and add that if I had the option, I would bring that simmer down a notch or two.
While the pasta, broccoli and sauce do their thing, cut the chicken into ¼ inch thick slices. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture. And it looked so nice on the cutting board, too!
When the timer goes off, grab about 1/3 cup of the pasta liquid and set it aside. The hot, starchy water works miracles on a slightly dry pasta dish.
When the cream has simmered enough to thicken slightly, and before the broccoli is done, add the parmesan and barely whisk it in. You just want it to incorporate, not get thick and stringy.
Take the broccoli right from the pasta pot and dump it on top of the sauce, add the sliced chicken and toss just to coat.
Drain the pasta, do not rinse it, just give it a couple shakes in the colander and return it to its pot. Put the pasta in the pan with the sauce, or pour the cream sauce over the pasta and toss it all together. If it’s a little dry, add the reserved pasta water a little at a time until it reaches the right consistency.
And there it is – Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli. (Yes, I washed the platter after having raw chicken on it.)
I usually serve it with a simple Romaine, red onion and crouton salad, but I ate it.
It was delicious.
CHICKEN ALFREDO WITH BROCCOLI
- olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 reg sz chicken breasts
- coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 lb. medium to wide noodles, such as fettuccine or tagliatelle
- 2 TB butter
- 1 ½ – 2 c heavy cream
- 4 c broccoli florets, cut bite size
- 2/3 – 1 c parmesan
Additional parmesan to pass at the table
- Start water heating for pasta.
- Heat olive oil in sauté pan; add garlic; brown chicken 6 minutes on each side. Cover pan after turning chicken. Remove to cutting board to rest before slicing.
- Whisk butter and cream in pan over medium to medium-high heat.
- Cook pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water, until firm to bite. Follow package directions for “al dente.”
- Bring cream to a simmer. Reduce heat to low or medium-low to maintain a simmer that will not scorch the cream. Simmer until cream thickens, about 1 to 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Steam (or microwave) broccoli in last 5 to 6 minutes of pasta cooking time.
- While pasta, broccoli and sauce are working, slice chicken breasts ¼ inch thick. (At this point, if there is any pink left in chicken, add those pieces to the simmering sauce to finish cooking. One to two minutes is usually enough to finish.)
- Sprinkle parmesan onto cream sauce, whisk just to incorporate. Add steamed broccoli and sliced chicken. Stir to coat.
- Reserve 1/3 cup pasta liquid. Drain pasta. Do not rinse! Return pasta to its pot, pour broccoli and chicken cream sauce over pasta, and toss to coat. If the cream sauce is not coating the pasta well, add enough reserved liquid to remedy.
- Serve immediately with additional parmesan.