Who says I can't get fancy every now and then? Occasionally, my wife does get tired of the more extreme Cajun, and of me cooking with beer for some reason. But anyway, for Valentine's Day, I decided to try this one out for her -- Pecan-Pesto Chicken with Angel Hair pasta, out of the John Folse Encyclopedia, a book we've referenced before.
You'll have to bear with me on the pictures slightly, but we'll do this in two parts. First, the Pesto mixture.
1/3 cup pecans
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp minced garlic
2/3 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
Pesto is of course, a green flavorful paste used as a base for sauces, made with fresh herbs and, typically pine nuts, although Folse recommends pecans here.
1. Combine pecans, Parmesan, garlic and basil leaves in a food processor. Pulse for a minute or two until the mixture is well chopped and combined.
2. Turn the processor and add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until you get the paste consistency you see here.
Once finished, you can store this up to two weeks in a glass jar, and this portion size will be more than enough for this particular dish so you'll have some more to use in other things if you so choose. Now, on to the chicken and pasta.
2 boneless chicken breasts (the recipe calls for skin-on boneless chicken breasts, but I made do with what I had)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
¼ cup diced shallots
1 tsp minced garlic
1 ½ tbsps flour
1/2 cup dry white wine (I just used the wine we planned on drinking with dinner, a Chardonnay)
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1. Pre-heat an oven to 200 degrees.
2. Season the half-cup of flour with salt and pepper, then use it to lightly dust the chicken breasts. I also used a meat mallet to flatten the breasts some, so they would cook evenly.
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-to-medium-high heat, and sauté the chicken breasts, a few minutes on each side until well browned and cooked completely. Remove from skillet and place on a baking sheet in the oven to keep warm.
4. In the remaining oil, add the shallots and garlic (the recipe also calls for a ¼ cup of oyster mushrooms, but I left those out) and sauté until wilted. To be honest, I probably over browned things a little bit here, not that it really reflected in the dish's flavor.
5. Add the remaining 1 ½ tbsp of flour, and whisk until incorporated.
6. Add the wine and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.
7. Whisk in the heavy cream, and then add 2 level tbsps of the pesto mixture and stir in. You may add a little more to taste if you prefer. I did.
Toss some cooked pasta -- I recommend angel hair -- in the sauce and place in the middle of the plate with a chicken breast on top, and, if you like, some extra pesto on top.