Sometimes when I get a craving for pasta, only creamy will do. But the great thing about this is that there isn’t actually that much cream in it at all. Just a little drizzle, and a couple of tricks…
The other day, I was chatting to a work colleague who’s just come back from a few days’ holiday in Italy. It turns out he stayed on some kind of eco-farm where you could take part in some cooking classes. As you can imagine, my eyes grew wide as he spoke – this definitely sounds like my idea of a great holiday!
What really made me sit up and listen though was his description of one of the pasta recipes he was shown how to make. I forget exactly what was in it, but it ended with a few splashes of cream being added, followed by a few splashes of pasta water.
In other words, NOT a whole pot of cream!
Isn’t that great news? If the Italians think a creamy pasta can be made with just a splash or two of cream, then I’m certainly going to have the confidence to do the same!
Coincidentally, I’ve just been working on this creamy chicken and mushroom pappardelle recipe, which I made after tasting something similar on a recent day out. To make the ‘sauce’, I started with a splash of wine (for flavour), then added crème fraiche – around four tablespoons only – followed by enough pasta cooking water to get things all nicely loosened up.
Basically I made it in a similar way to the Italians, by using pasta cooking water in my sauce. I’m a genius! Well, it’s actually the Italians who are geniuses, but let’s just pretend for a minute. 😉
I honestly didn’t feel like I needed any more crème fraiche in this delicious pasta. And, by the way, perhaps you are wondering what on earth crème fraiche even is. Well, it’s a sort of light sour cream that’s pretty popular over here in the UK, but don’t worry because this recipe can just as easily be made with normal cream, or even sour cream.
I just like to use crème fraiche because it’s got a nice light tangy flavour, and doesn’t curdle in the pan when you heat it.
And speaking of tangy flavour, I love to add lemon zest to this dish too – it works perfectly together with the cream, mushrooms and chicken.
A good amount of finely chopped parsley and grated parmesan round the end result off nicely.
I LOVE this pasta dish. And you’ve got to adore pappardelle. I love that it comes from the Italian verb ‘to gobble’ (‘pappare’)! It’s such a perfect description of how I eat this dish!
Creamy chicken and mushroom pappardelle
- a drizzle of oil for cooking
- 10 ounces chicken breast or thigh chopped into small pieces
- 6.5 ounces pappardelle pasta
- 9 ounces tasty mushrooms e.g. chestnut
- 1 garlic clove crushed
- a large drizzle of white wine or chicken stock if you prefer
- zest of 1 lemon
- 4 tablespoons crème fraiche or cream
- a small bunch of parsley washed and chopped finely
- grated parmesan cheese to serve
Heat up the oil in a large pan, then stir fry the chicken for a few minutes until cooked through. Remove from the pan.
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, add the mushrooms to the pan you cooked the chicken in and cook until softened (a few minutes). Add the garlic and cook for a minute longer, then add the drizzle of wine and let sizzle for a moment.
Add the zest to the pan, followed by the crème fraiche or cream and parsley. Lift the pappardelle out of the cooking water and add directly to the pan using tongs.
Toss everything together well, then add enough cooking water to make the dish loose and silky.
Serve out into two bowls. Sprinkle with parmesan to taste.
Make this vegetarian by skipping the chicken - it's just as delicious!