On Friday night I decided to make a dinner that we don’t usually have at home. It was a little rich – and we do not tend to have dinners full of rich, creamy, bacon-y food. But I needed it and it was good for the soul.
The idea came to me during a walk with two friends over our lunch break on Friday – so I can’t take all of the credit. A friend of mine asked if I ever did a creamy pasta sauce with pasta and vegetables. I told her that I had not done something like this in a very long time, but I had a craving for such a dish. In my head it would be not just pasta and vegetables, but grilled chicken and pancetta. As soon as the idea was in my head, I was looking forward to my next creation in the kitchen.
I started off my weekend with a run to Wegman’s. I picked up one piece of grilled chicken, slices of pancetta, broccoli, garlic, milk and Gruyère cheese.
When we got home I turned my oven on to 400 degrees. I chopped up the pancetta in half inch pieces and turned on the stove. At the same time I also quickly washed and prepped the broccoli. I lined a baking sheet with foil, threw the broccoli florets on to it and drizzled olive oil and sprinkled sea salt and freshly ground pepper as well. Once my pan was hot, I added the pancetta and browned it. SC thinly cut up the grilled chicken while I was working the pancetta.
Once the pancetta was browned, I spooned it out of the pan into a small plate lined with a paper towel to drain. I cleaned most of the fat off of the pan (but left just a little bit for flavor). I added three crushed and chopped cloves of garlic to the pan with 2 tablespoons of butter. Once the butter was melted, I added two scant tablespoons of flour to make my roux. Once the flour had cooked, I slowly added some milk to the pan and a little half and half because we had it on hand. Soon enough I had just a little bit of a cream sauce – next time I might make more, but this time it was good enough. Because we don’t eat a lot of rich meals, I didn’t want to shock our system with a super creamy / cheesy dinner. Once the cream sauce was developed, I sprinkled a small handful of Gruyère into the mix.
At this time the pasta was finished cooking – it only needs to be al dente because you’re going to throw it into the pan to cook with the other ingredients. I reserved a cup of the pasta water in case I needed it for the cream sauce. I added the pasta, chicken, broccoli and pancetta into the pan. Wow, this was amazing!! I ended up adding a little of the pasta water just to increase the volume of the sauce (I really skimped on it I realized in the end…)
It really felt like the dinner was ready in no time. A few days earlier I had mentioned to SC that we don’t go out to dinner all that often (ironically I said this as we were going out for a wonderful dinner…) and as we were eating the dinner we had just made he said, “See?! This is why we don’t go out to dinner all that much – because this is restaurant quality food right here and we like cooking it!” I couldn’t argue with him. It was a fantastic dinner – and it was exactly what I was craving. I love having a dinner in mind and going home to make it. There is nothing better than what you were desiring comes out so well. It might not be a pretty photograph, but this dinner was fantastic – and I will definitely be making it again soon!