When we visited the Amalfi Coast the lemons were everywhere.... on the terraced gardens, along the roadside, growing in pots, being sold from three wheeled vendors, overfilling crates outside of neighborhood Alimentari, in the gift shops in the form of soaps and scents, and in bottles of Limoncello. It's also in the food--in kitchens and ristoranti everywhere along the Amalfi Coast and in most of Campagnia where the world famous huge Sfusato lemons are grown.
After recently seeing an episode of David Rocco's Amalfi Getaway in which he prepared 'Ndunderi (ricotta gnocchi) with a lemon sauce, I was inspired to create my own lemon sauce for use with pasta. I wanted to make it lemony, spicy and fragrant, the way I remember the flavors of the Amalfi Coast. I remember when we first stopped our car along the Coast Road and looked out at the rugged cliffs meeting that shimmering seascape... I was dumbstruck. I almost cried from the fact that I was actually standing there in this glorious environment. I wanted to create flavors that took me back to that moment... a mix of amazing beauty and the danger of the cliffs and the curvy road ahead. A blend of sweet tartness with some decent heat. I set to work...
First I threw together some ingredients:
3/4 pound of cut up chicken breasts, salted and peppered with Lemon Pepper
zest of 3 large lemons (the most fragrant you can find)
The juice of two of the lemons
3 tablespoons of lemon flavored olive oil (for sautéing)
1/2 teaspoon pepperoncino (red pepper flakes)
2 whole cloves of garlic (paper removed)
1 cup of a fruity white wine (I used a French Sancerre we happened to have)
1 cup of Low Fat Half & Half (or heavy cream)
1 pound of a textured pasta to hold the sauce well (we used a large, imported Radiatore)
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
So, first I started with a big pot for the pasta with lots of water and a few tablespoons of salt.... covering the pot almost all the way, with the flame up high. (While doing all of the following prep, pay attention to when your water boils and then add the pasta). Next, I got the lemon zest ready and set it aside. A microplane is far better for this task than one of those old fashioned zesters. It gives a much finer, moist and fragrant zest.
I placed about 3 tablespoons of the lemon olive oil in a 12" non-stick saute pan, sprinkled in the pepperoncino and turned the heat to medium. I cut up some white chicken breasts into short strips and salted them, then sprinkled with lemon-pepper mix. Adding the chicken to the hot pan, I sautéed them until I got some decent color on the first side (about 3 minutes), then, after I turned the pieces of chicken over, I added the two garlic cloves into the oil and then sprinkled the chicken with the lemon zest and continued to cook, tossing as needed for another minute or so. You can now squeeze in the juice from two of the lemons use your hands as a filter to keep the seeds from falling into the sauce.
Then it was time to add the wine. If you can, get a bottle of Costa d'Amalfi white wine... as this was a spur of the moment, middle of the week recipe, I used the Sancerre I had in my clay wine storage tiles. Turn the heat up to high before you add the wine.... you want to burn off the alcohol. You can flame it by tilting the pan or just wait until the wine reduces a bit, then add the Half and Half (or heavy cream). Continue cooking to reduce the sauce, but depending on how textured your pasta is, you don't want this sauce too thick. You want it to get into all the crevices of the pasta. I would leave it thicker for something smooth, like ravioli.
After a few minutes, your sauce should look like the photo below... creamy and coating the chicken well, but not thick or pasty. If you've gone too far, either add some more wine or a tablespoon of water to loosen it up a bit.
Hopefully, your pasta should be ready by the end of cooking your chicken. If it's not, take your chicken and sauce off the flame, cover and set aside. Once the pasta is ready, drain in a colander, then combine well in a large pasta serving bowl. Toss in the Parmagiano Reggiano and basil and mix well.
That's it... your Amalfi Lemon Pasta and Chicken is ready to serve. I hope you enjoy the bit of heat. Lucas and I thought it was perfect but Lisa thought I should have backed off a bit on the red pepper flakes. If you're not that into heat, perhaps use half the pepperoncino. And definitely half the rest of the bottle of wine with your meal... The Sancerre was a perfect compliment to the chicken, pasta and lemon fragrance.
Allora, buon appetito!
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Copyright 2016 - Jerry Finzi - All Rights Reserved
4/29/2018 10:15:28 am
Hope this puts me on your email list. This post was exceptional and I look forward to more of the same.
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