Working at a corporate job has its set of benefits, and limitations. The limitations come in the form of scant time for self and home. For one, there’s hardly adequate time to travel back home through traffic gridlocks and then wait in the hope of enjoying hours of cooking time. Never. As with survival instincts that come to the fore when there is no choice, you will unquestionably devise short cuts to find time for whatever takes your fancy after work hours.
One of them is cooking. To me, the chopping of ingredients consumes a considerable amount of time. Even shopping for those ingredients does hold you up a bit, so it will do well to factor in that time taken for shopping and chopping when setting up a time schedule for cooking.
The part that can be vexing is that of drawing a list of items to shop. It isn’t the writing of a list that is wracking in itself. But in checking each and every drawer in the kitchen for items that may possibly be pushed to the far recesses of the pantry shelves and out of sight. You don’t want to order a second pack of flour or another chilli flakes container if there’s one sitting in the wrong place.
The next thing that will nettle you is when you have to assess the measured quantities required for your dish. If, for instance, you plan to cook a kilo of chicken you’d need two packs of cream but if cooking 300 grams of it, how would you calculate whether a half pack would suffice or less than half of a pack? Scratch, scratch, scratch.
How would you know if your pack in the fridge is half or three-fourths full? Of course, that comes with experience and if you don’t have a cook managing (read coming in your way) on weekends you ought to be fine.
It’s for this precise reason that I choose to cook dishes that have ingredients that can be boiled or marinated a day ahead. This reduces cooking time on the main day which can be utilised for merely sauteeing, stirring and baking. This is my USP.
So, here goes my take on Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, an Italian recipe which is oft used for my party affairs as there’s not a great deal of work on the day of the affair.
Chicken Fettucine Alfredo Recipe - Italian Mains - Part 1
Ingredients for Fettucine Alfredo - Flat Noodles
- 200 gms flat noodles (add a dash of oil when boiling the noodles, may be boiled 1-2 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator)
- 100 ml (or half pack) Amul fresh cream
- 2 tbsp Amul butter
- 1 tbsp garlic (finely chopped)
- 1 tsp mixed herbs (or dried fresh herbs)
- ¼ tsp black pepper (ground)
- chilli flakes (as per taste)
Method for Fettucine Alfredo - Flat Noodles
- Boil the noodles for 10-12 minutes, adding a few drops of oil in the process to allow the noodles to stay as separate strands. Keep aside.
- In a separate vessel, heat butter & fresh cream together for a few seconds (remember to shake he fresh cream pack well before use).
- Add the chopped garlic, chilli flakes, pepper and stir.
- Add the salt (a little less, owing to the salt content in the butter) and boil for a minute.
- Drop in the whole lot of boiled flat noodles, use a spiked spoon to twirl the noodles till well ensconsced with the garlic, chilli, butter and cream mix.
- If preparing the Chicken Fettucine Alfredo a day or two ahead, follow these steps: Grease a Borosil or similar toughened rectangular glass dish with butter. Fill the dish with the cooked flat noodles, then top with the chicken-and-veggies mix (refer Part 2 of the recipe). Sprinkle both varieties of grated cheese over the mix (refer Part 2 of the recipe). Cover/wrap the homemade Fettucine Alfredo dish with cling film and store in the refrigerator for a day or two - this step is optional.
Chicken Fettucine Alfredo Recipe - Italian Mains - Part 2
- Borosil toughened glass dish (for baking)
- OTG (oven)
Ingredients for Chicken-and-Veggies Mix
- 1 tbsp Amul butter
- 300 gms boneless chicken (cut in cubes)
- 100 gms broccoli (chopped into medium-sized florets)
- 4-5 baby corn (or cornlets on the cob) (sliced in the centre)
- 5-6 button mushrooms (chopped to medium bits, not to small as they tend to shrivel up in the cooking process)
- A palmful Mozarella cheese (grated)
- A palmful Amul "regular" cheese (grated)
- 1 tsp mixed herbs
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tsp salt
Method for Chicken-and-Veggies Mix
- Heat the butter a tad, don't wait until it completely melts. Add the chopped chicken cubes and sear on high heat for a few seconds.
- Sprinkle in the pepper, chilli flakes, mixed herbs and salt. Stir in till well mixed with the cubed chicken. Do so for approx. 5-7 minutes till chicken is cooked.
- Add the chopped veggies (that is, chopped mushrooms, broccoli florets, sliced cornlets) and sautee for a further 5-7 minutes. Remove and keep aside to later top over the cooked flat noodles
- If preparing the Chicken Fettucine Alfredo dish a day or two ahead, follow these steps: Grease a Borosil or similar toughened glass dish with butter. Fill the dish with the cooked noodles (refer Part 1 of the recipe), then top with the chicken-and-veggies mix. Sprinkle both varieties of grated cheese over the mix. Cover/wrap the dish with cling film and store in the refrigerator for a day or two - this step is optional.
- On the day of the event/dish preparation, remove the cling film-wrapped Chicken Fettucine Alfredo dish from the refrigerator and bake in an oven for 10-15 minutes at 180-200 degrees. There is no need for pre-heating in the case of this particular dish.
When set to prepare your own homemade Fettucine Alfredo, remember to use a little oil while boiling the flat noodles. If you happen to miss adding oil during the boiling process, rub some oil into your fingers and twirl your fingers into the noodles later (to help separate the strands).
Always cool the cooked noodles in a refrigerator before cooking the dish – as hot noodles tend to break during the baking process. Am sure you will need no telling that the boiled noodles need to be brought down to room temperature before cooling in the refrigerator.
A preferred mixed herbs brand for the Fettucine Alfredo dish and similar Italian dishes – is Carmencite brand OR Kopol. You could pick up fresh herbs (like basil, chives, celery, rosemary) from the marketplace, then dry them on your kitchen tabletop or any available flat surface for a couple of days. After they are well dried, grind them individually using the same proportion for each of the three herbs when mixing them together.
Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo represents a meal in itself, with no embellishments, except perhaps for a good bottle of wine!
Questo cibo e molto buono! (This food is delicious!)