Monday, March 4, 2013

Chicken and Fusilli alla Vodka

I worked out this recipe several years ago as an an homage to two of my favorite dishes from a now long gone restaurant in Saratoga Springs, NY called The Elms. We were shocked when they closed their doors and I remember my heart sinking at the thought that I'd never have these delicious pasta dishes again.

Fusilli with Vodka Sauce was a totally new concept to me at the time and as far as I can recall, it was well before "vodka sauces" became as popular as they are today. But, it definitely wasn't the "pink" sauce that's you see in restaurants these days, which is usually accomplished by adding a couple of splashes of cream to a basic marinara sauce.

Nothing against the person who developed that idea, but I just can't eat the stuff. For some reason, pink sauces always give me horrible heartburn. (sorry if that's TMI lol)  Their version, (as is my own) was instead, a cream based sauce with shallots, prosciutto, vodka and parmesan, with a little diced tomato tossed in at the end of the preparation. It can be a little rich, but I don't make it that often and when I do, it's definitely worth any added calories I might consume in the process. In moderation, of course. ;~)

I usually make it in original syle, without adding any meat or seafood to the mix, but I found myself thinking about another favorite from The Elms on this particular evening called Chicken Sausage Toscana, so I cooked up some chicken breast to go with it. The house made chicken sausage was in a slightly more similar sauce to the "pink" sauces you see toda, but it was definitely a very pale pink sauce comprised mainly of a creamy parmesan base with just a hint of Marinara tossed in.

According to the hubbers, I'm welcome to do it again and I don't think he'd scoff at the addition of a little seafood instead next time. Hmmmm.... Lobster, anyone? We'll see. ;~)

Chicken and Fusilli alla Vodka
  • 3-4 Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • 16 oz Fusilli Pasta
  • 2-3 Tbls Olive Oil
  • 1/4 lb Prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • 1 Lg Shallot, minced
  • 1 Small Tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/3 Cup Vodka
  • 1 Pint Heavy Cream
  • 3/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • Salt and Pepper

Brush a bit of olive oil on the chicken breasts and season them with salt and pepper. In a heavy skillet, saute the chicken over medium high heat, turning every 3 or 4 minutes, until lightly browned and cooked through to a temperature of 165 degrees. Remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. You can also place it in the oven on the "warm" setting (if your oven has that feature) or about 250 degrees.

In a large stockpot, bring 8 quarts of water to a boil. (don't forget to salt the water liberally once it comes to a boil) Cook the pasta according to the package directions or until it's al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, saute the shallots and half of the prosciutto in about a tablespoon of olive oil, until the shallots are soft and the prosciutto is a light golden brown.

Add the vodka and continue to cook over medium high heat until it reduces to a slightly syrupy consistancy. (shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes)

Pour in the heavy cream and add about 2/3 of the parmesan. Continue to cook over medium to medium high heat until it's just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Then turn the heat down to medium low, add the diced tomato and simmer for another 4 or 5 minutes.

While the sauce continues to simmer, slice the chicken breasts (I slice them on the diagonal - it just looks nicer) and cover them back up with the foil to keep them warm for a few more minutes.

Remove about 3/4 cup of the sauce to a small bowl and set it aside in a warm place. (To spoon over the plated dish)

Drain the cooked pasta and add it directly into the sauce in the pan. Stir everything well to combine, adding the rest of the prosciutto and the remaining cheese as you do.

How you serve this, is up to you. You can either plate up individual servings, adding as many slices of chicken as you like on each. Then, spoon a little of the reserved sauce over the top. Or, you can pour all of the finished pasta into a large serving bowl, arrange the chicken pieces on top and drizzle the reserved sauce over it all, before bringing it to the table. Since it's usually just the two of us, I generally do it the first way.



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  1. That looks really good, Mary. I bet no one is hungry after eating that!

    BTW, I dedicated something to you on my Thursday post. I hope you like it:)

    1. Thanks Rob.... Nope. Nobody walks away hungry. (which is one of the reasons that I try not to make it too often. lol) Yay! I can't wait to see what you've got for me! Could it be a "Here's To You Thursday" shout-out?? You're such a sweetie! I'll be over shortly. XOXO

  2. Mary, that looks wonderful. I like the idea of a cream sauce and not a red sauce w/cream in it. A decadent dish to make for a celebratory dinner. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Sue! I don't know why red sauces with cream affect me the way they do, but my stomach just doesn't seem to like the combination. This recipe has turned out to be a pretty good alternative. The vodka adds great flavor, too. (I would definitely recommend a green salad or something like that with it, to balance out the richness) XOXO

  3. I just look at that recipe and I'm starving! I prefer a white sauce so this is perfect for me.

    1. Me too, Maureen! I must admit that I do love a big old pot of Sunday Gravy with meatballs and sausage now and then, but my usual "go-to" is a white or light sauce on pasta dishes ~ especially if there's seafood or chicken involved. :~)


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