Last night, KK and I went on the 4th annual (although it was our 1st) Guac Rock cruise/concert/guacamole-eating festival/boat ride with my coworker friends. We got there early enough to snag seats on the deck for the group, the weather was perfect, and the views of NYC were incredible. They served Sixpoint beer which I'd not had before; I highly recommend The Crisp and Sweet Action. We sampled about five different guacamole recipes, including the mix from the winner of Guactacular 2013. Understandably, the Guactacular winners wouldn't share their award-winning recipe with us, but I think the key to their success was the Modelo/lime juice/salt mixture they sprayed on top of each serving. I will definitely be on the lookout for this event next year!
To be honest, I am not a huge fan of Olive Garden. There are so many Italian restaurants to choose from, especially in Hoboken and NYC, that I prefer avoiding chain restaurants. When KK told me that this recipe was a re-creation of an Olive Garden dish, I was immediately skeptical. The end result, however, was delicious! I really liked the sauce, with the fresh veggies adding to the flavor. As the chicken cooks, do not move it around in the skillet. By leaving it in one place, the flour mixture forms a crust on the chicken. One last piece of advice: I recommend doing all of your prep work first (chopping, mincing, measuring) because things move quickly in this recipe so it helps to have everything ready to use in advance!
Tuscan Garlic Chicken
Adapted from Mel's Kitchen
Time: 40 minutes
1 lb. chicken breasts
¾ cup + 1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp pepper
8 oz. fettuccine
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, chopped
½ cup chicken broth
6 oz. fresh spinach
2 tsp cornstarch
½ cup evaporated milk
1 cup skim milk
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and lightly grease it with cooking spray.
2. Combine ¾ cup flour, salt, pepper, basil and oregano in a shallow dish. Butterfly chicken into thin pieces, and cut into smaller servings, about 4 pieces in total. Coat each piece of chicken thoroughly with flour mixture.
3. In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat until the oil is hot. Place chicken breasts in the skillet, and cook for 3-4 minutes each side, until golden brown. Chicken will not be cooked all the way through. Remove the chicken from the skillet and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside and tent with foil.
4. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
5. Wipe the previously used skillet with paper towels. Return the skillet to medium heat and add remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil to the pan. Once hot, add garlic and red pepper, and saute for 3 minutes.
6. Stir in 1 Tbsp flour and stir constantly while cooking for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes.
7. Whisk in cornstarch, evaporated milk, and skim milk; then stir in the spinach. Keep the mixture at a simmer and continue to cook until spinach wilts and sauce thickens, about 3-4 additional minutes. Finally, stir in Parmesan cheese.
8. Toss pasta with the cheese sauce. Serve immediately, serving the breaded chicken breasts on top of the pasta. If the pasta and sauce mixture seems dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.