Fusilli Bucati with spinach, grilled chicken, cracked pepper, and a smoked Gouda cream sauce.
So on Tuesday night, my mother badly injured her foot. I will not go into details, but we spent the entire night in the ER. She stayed home alone the next day, unable to walk and feeling quite sad over the whole ordeal. Consequently, I spent my day at work on Wednesday thinking of what meal I would treat her to and cook later that night to alleviate just a little bit of pain.
Since I was running off of close to no sleep, I was being very indecisive and could not come up with a good plan. On the way home from New York, I had some time to kill before my train. I visited the Grand Central Market in hopes of being inspired. I found a small pasta stand, and immediately gravitated toward these little Fusilli Bucati. They’re hollow corkscrew shapes, that are thinner and seemingly more tightly curled than normal Fusilli. I’m not sure what it is about slightly out of the ordinary shaped pasta, but I freaking love it.
I bought the overpriced package and headed to the train, knowing I’d get the rest of the ingredients back in CT. Although my plan was to brainstorm the whole ride home, I ended up passing out and waking up just barely in time for my stop.
Once I got home, I spit a few ideas out at my mom, thinking I would do something simple and somewhat healthy like EVOO, tomatoes, basil and fresh mozz. She wasn’t having it. She wanted comfort food. “Something cheesy.” Thus, the smoked Gouda cream sauce idea sparked.
My mom makes the best mac ‘n’ cheese, and having had her show me the Béchamel sauce on many occasions, I started there. I decided to throw in some grilled chicken, spinach (makes it healthy, duh), and a generous amount of cracked pepper. Here’s my recipe for the gluttonous bowl of cheesy heaven:
What you’ll need:
- Chicken breast (I had two thick breasts)
- About 2 cups of cream (I think? .. heavy or light)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tsp flour
- Pasta (doesn’t have to be a really cool shape like mine)
- At least 2 cups of Gouda
- A handful or two of spinach
- Lotsa pepper
- Other seasonings for chicken (I used onion powder, salt&pepper, oregano powder, and Lawry’s seasoned salt)
- Olive Oil
Start with the chicken. Fire up the grill to a medium heat. Wash and dry, drizzle with olive oil and douse with whatever seasoning and/or herbs you’d like/you have on hand.
Once grill is hot, place the breasts on and cook for about 4 minutes on each side. If you want, start boiling a pot of water for the pasta while the chicken is cooking. Cook time will greatly vary due to the thickness of the breast you are using! Since you’re cutting it up for the pasta anyway, no harm in slicing the chicken while it’s cooking to see if it’s still pink inside or not. This will also help it cook faster. Once chicken is done, set aside.
Once water is brought to a boil, add the pasta. Cook to al dente, set aside.
In a large sauce pan or skillet, melt your butter over a medium-low heat. I used one tbsp of salted butter, and one tbsp of a flavored butter that Land O’Lakes makes (garlic & herb). Once butter is melted, whisk in the flour, and then slowly add the cream (I used light, but made up for it in quantity).
I have no idea how much cream I ended up using to be honest. It was a lot. 1 1/2 cups would be sufficient, but sometimes you just get carried away… Adding too much can make the consistency too thick so be careful and add in small portions. I was making a ton of pasta so my method of copious amount of cream worked out okay.
Keep stirring the butter/flour/cream mixture until it begins to thicken, then add about half of the Gouda, followed by the pasta. I added the pasta in small portions so that the skillet didn’t overflow. Add the rest of the cheese and mix until mixture is nice and thick. Coat the pasta and turn down the burner to the lowest heat. This is when I added the extra cream, because the amount of cheese I used made it a little too thick.
Add spinach and keep stirring until it is wilted. Cut the chicken and add as well. Then pile on the cracked pepper (and some salt just cuz). Serve with a little more pepper on top, and try your best not to eat 5 servings worth.