Linguine with White Clam Sauce

Linguine with Clam Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans (142ml/4.8oz each) baby clams, drained
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to tase
  • 250g (8.8oz) dry linguine
  • 2 Tbsps grated parmesan cheese

Directions


Sauté the shallots on medium high heat in the olive oil until soft. Add the white wine, and cook down until reduced by over half. Add chicken broth and clams, stir. Add oregano and hot sauce, stir. Cut the cream cheese into smaller pieces, then add to the sauce. Allow to melt and stir into the sauce. Cook the linguine. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the sauce. Cook until sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain the pasta, add to the sauce, and toss to mix. Top with parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper, serve

And now for the details…

This dish was a family favourite. We were introduced to it by a family friend when I was young, and it quickly became a special dish in our household. We had it often enough, that after a bit of time my mom would not even bother pulling the recipe card out when making it, she had made it so often. We had a tradition in our household that on our birthdays, we would get to choose what we wanted for dinner. The amount of times that I would choose this dish as my birthday dinner are innumerable. Not… because of my age… but because… I liked it so much… I can’t remember how many times… Okay, I’m getting old. Regardless, this is a special dish in my heart, and any time I’m feeling homesick or want some comfort food, this is the dish I turn to.

It’s also a fairly quick and easy meal to come together. So even though it was a special dish, it was still something that could come together on a school/work night in a fairly short amount of time. Pair it up with a simple green salad, and you’ve got yourself a great meal!

Start everything off by mincing the shallot and sautéing it in a large pan on medium high heat with the olive oil just until the shallot has started to soften and turned translucent. Add the white wine to the pan, stirring to mix.

We are going to let the white wine reduce until the liquid has almost completely boiled off. Just a small amount of liquid should be left in the pan.

Next, add your chicken broth and clams. Yes, I am suggesting to drain the clams, and yes, this is an opportunity to use the clam juice to increase the “clamminess” of your dish. But to be honest, I actually find the clam juice a bit too salty (I know, it’s shocking, I’m calling something too salty, call the press) and not as rich in umami flavour as using chicken broth as your liquid source. It’s also important to use baby clams in this dish. I made the mistake once of not paying attention when buying the canned clams and ended up with whole clam pieces. The texture is just not the same as the small, juicy bites of baby clams.

Stir, bringing the sauce back up to a simmer, then add the oregano and hot sauce. Just a few dashes of the hot sauce, we are not trying to burn our faces off (I mean, unless that’s what you are looking for, then have at ‘er), just adding an extra layer of flavour to the dish. Now is also a good time to start cooking your pasta so it is ready around the time as your sauce.

Cut the cream cheese into smaller pieces. This will allow the cream cheese to melt faster, and meld into the sauce a bit faster. A quick note on cream cheese: you can use low fat cream cheese, but I would recommend the full fat. The low fat cream cheese does not melt as quickly, and it takes quite awhile before your sauce looks homogenous without a whole bunch of white chunks floating around.

Let the sauce simmer for a bit as you stir the melting cream cheese in. At this point, your pasta should be fairly close to being done as well. Before draining the pasta, add about 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the sauce and allow it to continue to simmer until the sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon. The addition of the pasta water helps the sauce to thicken, and will help it adhere to the pasta. Give the sauce a final taste test and add salt and pepper to suit your tastes.

Once the sauce is ready, add the drained pasta to the pan, and stir to mix the sauce into the pasta. Transfer to a wide serving platter, and top with the parmesan and fresh ground pepper, then serve!

Happy eating.

Chicken Vino Bianco (Olive Garden-ish)

Chicken Vino Bianco

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, butterflied and cut into medallions
  • 2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 cups oyster mushrooms, diced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tbsps olive oil
  • 2 Tbsps + 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 250 g pasta, cooked al dente

Directions

Season the chicken fillets with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with flour. Add 2 Tbsps of the olive oil and 1 Tbsp of the butter to a pan on medium-high heat until the butter is melted. Place the chicken breasts in the pan and cook until a golden brown and turn. Add another Tbsp of butter to the pan and cook the medallions until the inside temperature reaches 75ºC (165ºF). Remove from the pan, and set aside. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, add the shallots and sauté, add the mushrooms and sauté until soft. Add the tomatoes, then add the chicken broth and white wine. Cook down until the liquid is reduced significantly. Add 1/4 cup of butter and melt, stirring into the sauce. Add the chicken back into the pan, turning to coat. Place the pasta in a large shallow dish, then top with sauce and chicken. Serve.

And now for the details…

I had a period of time in my early twenties when I was borderline obsessed with the Olive Garden. Raised eyebrows and cringes, I’m sure, from the foodies out there. But I have to admit, I still enjoy visiting, particularly for the lunch of endless soup, salad and breadsticks. Their Zuppa Toscana? Delicious. Yep. I’m losing creditability from the foodie hipsters as I type. I recognize your need to shudder and turn away, but am not changing my mind on this one. Sorry folks, I love food. All food. In my mind, food sources do not need to be subversive, exclusive, or cutting edge to be delicious.

A favourite dish, which unfortunately I have not seen on their menu for well over a decade, was Chicken Vino Bianco. Through some trial and error, I think I have come pretty close to recreating it, and now am sharing with all of you! Pair this with a salad with Olive Garden salad dressing from Costco, and we are bringing the restaurant home!

We start by butterflying the chicken breasts and then cutting them into medallions. This pink cutting board? It is specific for my meat prep! To avoid cross-contamination, I have this separate board that I use strictly for raw meats, fish, and poultry. Safety first people! Now, salt and pepper each side of the medallions, and then dust them with flour. Shake off any excess flour and we are ready to start sautéing!

Heat up some olive oil at medium-high heat and melt the two tablespoons of butter into the oil. Once the butter is completely melted and starts bubbling slightly, add the chicken in a single layer, and cook until browned on both sides and completely cooked through the middle.

Set the chicken aside, but keep the pan hot. Add the shallots and a bit more olive oil if there is little of the oil left in the pan after cooking the chicken. Sauté the shallot until fragrant, then add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have just begun to turn soft. Next, we add the wine and cook down until the wine has almost completed reduced, there should be little liquid left in the pan.

(Now is also a good time to boil your water for your pasta.)

This is just after adding the wine, lots of liquid to lose yet!

We add our tomatoes next, and allow them to cook down for just a short bit of time, releasing some of their liquid, and softening slightly. Cooking for too long will lose our nice bright colour from the tomatoes, and cause them to smoosh in with the other ingredients, getting lost in the mix.

(Have you added pasta to your water yet? Get that going so you have pasta and sauce at the same time!)

Our last step is to melt in the 1/4 cup of butter, which is going to bring the liquid element back in, creating a nice sauce, and then bring the chicken back into the pan. Spoon sauce over the chicken, getting everything nice and saucy. Do a quick taste test here to see if you need any additional salt or fresh ground pepper. Add more S&P to taste.

Place your pasta in a large dish, then top with the chicken and sauce. If you would like, you can garnish with some fresh parsley and parmesan cheese.

Happy eating.