Today I was eager to cook something simple yet full of flavor. I decided to go the Italian route by choosing pasta Alfredo and garlic bread. I honestly could have made it easy on myself by tackling the Alfredo Sandra Lee-style (Semi Home Made) with a pre-made sauce, but wanted to challenge myself by making it from scratch for the first time. I’ve also been watching a lot of Chopped and was inspired to use some left over hot dog buns I had in my fridge for the garlic bread instead of using more obvious choices. I had to take the garlic bread idea one step further though. I wanted to process the bread into crispy and flavorful crumbs. And of course, as a Bartender, I wanted to marry this meal with the perfect cocktail.
Now, after having made dinner, sitting down and reflecting on it, I really wish there was hidden cameras in my kitchen. I was running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off. I burned my garlic bread crumbs so I had to create a new batch of garlic spread and start all over again in a mad dash.
Well, I’ll stop babbling now and get to the good stuff. Below you will find photos of the finished products and the recipes (all modified by me to my liking). The photo of the meal was indeed taken by me, but the Italian Margarita photo is not mine. I was not able to rim the glass with sugar due to lack of counter space and the bread emergency and I forgot to buy an orange to garnish it, but the Margarita photo below is what it would have looked like had I done it right.
BACON & MUSHROOM ALFREDO SAUCE
1 Pint Half & Half
3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Flour
3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 Shallot, Minced
1/3 Cup Parmesan Cheese, Grated
1/4 Cup Parsley Chopped
1/2 Pound Bacon, Cooked and Chopped
1/3 Cup Baby Bella Mushrooms, Chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil (maybe a little more)
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in flour until well-blended. Add half and half.
Stir sauce over medium-low heat. Do not allow sauce to boil or stick to bottom of pan. Reduce heat if necessary. Allow sauce to thicken (about 20 minutes), stirring frequently.
In a separate saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sautee mushrooms, shallot and remaining garlic until translucent and tender. Do not brown.
When sauce is near desired consistency, add Parmesan cheese. Stir to melt cheese for 2 minutes. Toss in most of the bacon and parsley (leave some to top your dish), salt and pepper to taste and mushrooms. Stir for another 1-2 minutes. Remove sauce from heat.
GARLIC BREAD CRUMBS
1/2 Cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, Softened
2 Large Cloves of Garlic, Smashed and Minced
1 Heaping Tablespoon of Freshly Chopped Parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste
Splash of Olive Oil
Bread of Choice
Simply mix all ingredients together. Ideally make this early on and refrigerate so that the flavors develop and really penetrate the butter. Soften again before applying to bread.
To create the bread crumbs, use any bread of your choice, and make sure it’s sliced fairly thin. Cover bread in garlic spread place on baking pan and broil. All breads will vary in time so just keep your eye on it. As soon as it looks toasted, pull out of the oven. Chop the bread into smaller pieces and grind up in a food processor until chunks have become crumbs.
Place crumbs back on baking pan and put back into the oven. This shouldn’t take more than 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn.
The chicken was seasoned with salt and pepper and sauteed over medium heat in olive oil with fresh garlic and shallots.
I chose to marry the chicken, sauce and pasta together before plating. Once plated I topped it with the bread crumbs, remaining bacon and a little bit more of chopped parsley for an extra burst of color.
1 oz Amaretto (Almond Lequeur)
2 oz Sweet and Sour Mix
1/2 oz Tequila of choice
1/2 oz Tripel Sec
Sugar for Glass
Garnish with an Orange Slice
Top glass with ice, poor in ingredients, shake and serve. If you want to get fancy, rim the glass with sugar and garnish with an orange slice.
If you’ve never rimmed a glass before, the easiest way is to get a slice or lemon or lime and squeeze it around the rim of the glass. Then tip glass into a small plate with sugar. Pat the rim around on the side to make sure the sugar sticks all around the border..
So now that we’re all done, I just have to say that dinner came out sooooo incredibly delicious and I’m quite proud of myself. And though I think these recipes are perfect as is, I’d like to know if any of you would do this a little differently? Are any of you inspired to give this a shot for yourself?? Comment to let me know and come back and comment again with pictures if you do!