Today I’m checking out Holly’s recipe from Spend with Pennies for a Skinny Chicken Alfredo.
From the off, I’m gonna be honest… I’ve never actually had a restaurant “Alfredo” dish. This might come as a surprise to American readers (or not, who knows!) but Alfredo sauce isn’t commonplace in the UK, or Italy for that matter.
There’s a little bit of inconsistency on the internet as to the specific origins of the dish (who’d have thought!), so I’m going with the ‘official’ version as told by the home of Fettuccine Alfredo itself: Il Vero Alfredo. Their website showcases the official story here, though the basics are very simple.
Alfredo’s wife found herself with pregnancy related illness preventing her from eating properly. In an attempt to help, Alfredo made a very simple dish from pasta, butter and cheese. Much as when we’re sick in the UK and the remedy is often hot buttered toast or perhaps mashed potato with a little cheese, the premise is the same. Plain, comforting food. Gentle on the stomach and easy to eat.
In a twist of fate (or perhaps luck), Alfredo added this dish to his restaurant menu. Then, in the early twenties two popular American silent movie actors, celebrating their honeymoon, dined at the restaurant and fell in love with the dish. The actors’ surprising gift of a gold, engraved fork and spoon in thanks for the recipe set the media off and one thing led to another…
Nowadays, the Alfredo sauce has been padded out in true American style with additional cream and extras, such as garlic and chicken. Nigel Slater, writing for The Guardian, advocates using 250ml of double cream and 100g of parmesan to serve two people! And honestly, you’d never find me making that in my kitchen.
So, on to the Skinny Chicken Alfredo from Spend with Pennies. I’d been hunting for a simple dish with a creamy pasta sauce, only without the cream. This recipe seemed to fit the bill nicely.
It calls for 2 chicken breasts to serve 4 people – which doesn’t work in our household. In serving this as a evening meal, without any side dishes, I opted to make the whole recipe as stated. The only changes I made was in the quantity of pasta and omitting the parsley.
My only problem really is that I just don’t do well with American measurements. They’re so… vague. I mean… take the picture above. Is this the required “1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese, shredded”? I’ve got a wide toothed grater, so each bit of cheese takes up more space than if I’d used a smaller grater. This obviously affects how much cheese fits into the cup, so I have no idea whether I got it right or not.
For the curious, I weighed out the ingredients to 50g of parmesan, 65g of cream cheese and 180g dried fettuccine for the pair of us.
In starting with raw chicken, I opted to alter the recipe instructions just a little. The chicken went into a hot pan with a little oil, frying until cooked through and browned. To that I added a little minced garlic from my trusty, pre-prepared minced garlic jar… then I sprinkled the flour over and gave it a good stir. To the pan I then added the milk, little by little, stirring thoroughly to form the sauce. Once the flour had cooked out and sauce thickened, I turned the heat off and added the rest of the ingredients as instructed.
As it turns out, I had a little too much sauce. Not much – and I was glad I hadn’t halved the amount, but I’d say there was a couple of tablespoons spare at the end. In the photos I hadn’t mixed the pasta and sauce together. Visually, that’s a mistake but you’ve got to understand – I needed to eat! And I’d already created more than enough washing up mess in the kitchen to go at.
I’ve actually made this dish a few times and we really enjoy it – it suits my cooking style for simple, easy but tasty. It’s a light, creamy sauce that isn’t overly rich but it’s nicely comforting. I wanted a good sprinkle of coarsely crushed black pepper to finish it off though. So I did.
Get the Recipe | Skinny Chicken Alfredo at SpendWithPennies.com