Go-to recipe for chicken pesto with home made pasta

It’s on everyone’s wedding registry for a reason; the Kitchen-Aid mixer is a household staple if you’re a home cook or aspiring chef.

Using a stand mixer, I’m going to teach you how to make tasty, home made pasta.

For context: we’re on day two of the “shelter in place” mandate due to COVID-19. Plan on lots of cooking posts to follow in the coming weeks, friends!

How to use that Kitchen-Aid mixer to make home made pasta

Ingredients you’ll need for the pasta dough:

  • 1 c. flour per egg (I typically do two of each, which will comfortably serve two)
  • water (to adjust for consistency)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Tools /parts you’ll need:

  • Again, we’re using a Kitchen-aid stand mixer with a pasta roller attachment, and linguini cutter rolling attachment.  We understand that even the lower Kitchen-aid mixers are not cheap and the upper-end ones can go upwards of $500.  That being said, we’re using one of the lower-tier models, and it does everything just fine.
  • As an alternative, there are hand-operable pasta rollers that you can clamp to you counter.
  • rolling pin (or wine bottle!!)

My pasta-making process:

  1. The first part is making the dough in the stand mixer. Attach the hook attachment. Combine all ingredients in the mixer until the dough is stiff.  You’ll notice it’s done when the ball of dough is knocking around inside the bowl and not breaking form.
  2. Use additional flour and water to adjust for consistency until you achieve the above.
  3. On a floured surface, form your ball into somewhat of a log (but one that in dimension, represents a jelly bean, more than a rolling pin). If you aren’t ready to use the dough right away, you can cover it in flour and then wrap it in plastic wrap. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  4. If you are ready to get started, the idea is to roll out all of the dough into sheets.
  5. Sprinkle flour on the surface area of where you’ll be rolling out the dough. Flour is your friend throughout this process.  Think of flour as the cooking spray of baking.
  6. Cut off a slice from the roll that’s about 3/4″ thick. Take that newly cut piece and apply flour to both sides. Using a rolling pin, roll it out into a piece that’s roughly 3″ wide by 6″ long. Fold that piece into thirds by bringing the ends into the middle.
  7. Roll it over so that the smooth part is facing up. Add more flour to your workstation. Begin to roll it out into a longer piece than the first one. Aim to make a 3x 8″ long sheet (should be about 1/8″ thick). Apply more flour to each side (dust on the flour and gently use your hand to smooth it across the surface of the pasta).
  8. Now is when the pasta roller comes into play. Whether a manual or electric roller, set the roller to its widest setting (should be nob setting number 1). All of your sheets will start at this size in order to become thinner as you run them through the roller. Each pasta sheet should get run through the roller at least once. I leave it to your personal preference as to how comfortable you are with feeding the pasta sheet in multiple times, through numerically higher settings, to make thinner pasta. I personally run it through once on the 1st setting and then once more on the 5th setting.

Tip: You want to keep your pasta sheets as flat and floured as possible. If your pasta sheets are sticking to your hands or to itself, apply more flour to the surface of the pasta sheet.

Note: Unless you’re making pasta sheets to make lasagna, this is when you need other tools to make other types of pasta. For instance, if you wanted to make ravioli you would need either a ravioli press or cutting wheels.  Cutting wheels can be used to make pasta like tortoloni and mezzoluna and other stuffed pastas.

For linguini or spaghetti you need specifically shaped cutting rollers. These are also available as Kitchen-Aid attachments.

My process for cooking the chicken

Since we pulled four breasts from our freezer at home, I’m thawing the chicken through a process of running cold water over it in the sink. You should always thaw things using cold running water or use the defrost setting on your microwave.  Although, if you have the foresight, it’s best to pull the frozen chicken from the freezer and let it thaw in its package in the refrigerator for a day or two.

Ingredients for the chicken:

  • 3-4 frozen chicken breasts
  • kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

My cooking process: 

  1. Pat both sides of the defrosted chicken dry with a paper towel.
  2. Season (from high above) both sides of the chicken with salt (either kosher or iodized) and fresh, ground pepper.
  3. Heat a pan over medium heat; I’m using a stainless steel saute pan. If you’re not going to use a teflon, non-stick, you’ll need to “season” the pan first. This entails covering the bottom of your pan with canola oil (or another high-cooking temp oil), bringing it up to heat, and then pouring out the oil, wiping out the inside with a towel (paper or otherwise) and repeating that process as many as three times. Basically, this turns your stainless steel pan into a nonstick (within reason).
  4. When your pan is ready to cook, add a tablespoon of cooking oil, and lay down the chicken flat onto the pan. It should sizzle when it hits the pan but not aggressively. The chicken will probably need 4 minutes to cook on each side depending upon the thickness of the breast and the BTU’s (amount of heat your stove generates).

The final product:

pesto chicken

For me, this meal is very basic: I added some orange cauliflower to the pasta water about one minute before adding the fresh pasta.  After straining the contents of the pot, I tossed everything with homemade basil pesto (but you can use store-bought), and topped it with chicken, and a dusting of grated parmesan.  Nice simple meal that anyone can make!  Enjoy!

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