Tag Archives: cream sauce

Rosemary Chicken Florentine Pasta

Back when I was rocking plaid skirts and a blazer in high school (and even before that as a tagalong with my mom’s running club), we used to frequent a quirky eatery called Generous George’s Positive Pizza and Pasta Place.  Fake flamingos and pink and teal paint dripping with kitsch and childhood memorabilia everywhere, it looked a little like Miami Vice and Parker Brothers got together as an interior design firm.  And do I recall a shark hanging from the ceiling?  Or maybe a surf board?  It was probably both.

Aesthetics aside, the place was too fun.  The pizzas featured airy, pliant dough with mounds of toppings and cheese.  And the pastas, all served on a single-sized pizza crust, were epic sized portions that even my dad’s appetite could not slay.  People left the place with takeout boxes and close to a pound of pasta in leftovers.  My mom usually got the red or white clam, Dad loved Old Naples with crumbled sausage and melted cheese, and Lexi usually ordered a personal pizza and pretended to be full after a bite or two so that she could get away with ordering dessert.  I used to be a sucker for the Chicken Romano Fettucine, basically alfredo with chicken, ham, peas and mushrooms, until I ordered the Rosemary Chicken Florentine on a whim.  The first time made me a convert – farfalle tossed with tender chicken, spinach, bacon, roasted red peppers in a rosemary cream sauce.  It was ridiculous.  Preposterous.  I was hooked.

Years have gone by since I’ve rolled down Duke Street in Alexandria to see our old haunt, and it turns out that there’s only my memories of the place to serve me now.  My sister posted on Facebook that the location was demoed and is now a PNC Bank.  I wondered if they auctioned off the merry-go-round pony that was in the main dining room?  Anyways, rather than put on my old school uniform, I decided to relive a classic and make a heaping mess of the beloved pasta.  I cut back the fat on the sauce, using milk instead of cream, and I didn’t have a pizza crust to use as a plate.  But it was still ridiculous.  Still preposterous.  And apparently, I’m still hooked.

Recipe for

Rosemary Chicken Florentine Pasta

2 chicken breasts
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
2 c. of chicken stock
1 c. of white wine
1/2 tsp. of white pepper
1/2 tsp. of black pepper
1 tsp. of salt
1/4 tsp. of garlic powder
2 bay leaves

4 strips of bacon
4 cloves of garlic
6 oz. of roasted red peppers, sliced
6 oz. of baby spinach
1 tbs. of olive oil
1 tbs. of chopped rosemary leaves
1 lb. of dried pasta cuts (farfalle, conchiglie, ziti, penne)

6 tbs. of butter
3 tbs. of flour
2 1/2 c. of whole milk
1 c. of locatelli
1/2 tsp. of black pepper
pinch of white pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 tsp. of garlic powder

Begin by cooking the chicken.  Add two boneless, skinless chicken breasts to a saucepan with the stock, wine, rosemary sprigs, bay leaves, 1/2 tsp. of white pepper, 1/2 tsp. of black pepper, 2 tsp. of salt and 1/4 tsp. of garlic powder.  Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat.  Cover and let sit for 15 minutes.  Remove chicken from poaching liquid and let cool slightly.  Shred with two forks.  Set aside.

Now make the sauce.  Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Whisk in the flour, white pepper, black pepper, garlic powder and nutmeg.  Add the milk, whisking the entire time to prevent lumps.  Turn the heat to medium and whisk until thickened.  Stir in the locatelli and remove from the heat.  Stir in the roasted red peppers.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to box directions.  While the water comes to a boil, add bacon to a skillet and brown.  Toss in garlic, rosemary, spinach and the olive oil and cook until spinach is wilted.  Season with a little extra salt and black pepper and set aside.

When the pasta finishes, drain and toss with the red pepper cream sauce, spinach/chicken/garlic/rosemary mixture.  Top with extra grated locatelli and serve hot.