We are suckers for citrus. There are some things that are repeated over and over on this website, and our mutual love for citrus flavors is one of them. You can pop the zest of any lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, tangerine, kumquat even, into a dish, and we’ll adore you for doing so. There’s something about the essence of the oils that perfume and linger over the nose and tongue, making citrus a perfect complement to any recipe. You can try to refute this fact if you like, but it’s a battle you will not win with us. The need to zest also gives you the perfect excuse to invest in another gadget for the kitchen, so pull out your Microplane friends! It’s time to citrusify your food.
A simple, cheesey pasta dinner is the perfect place to toss your zest. This time, it was a homemade alfredo sauce that would be perfect over pasta. Ridged penne is a great choice because the thick, creamy sauce finds itself trapped along the lines and inside of each piece. As for the zest, if you look closely, you may even see tiny specks on the pasta as well. All of that flavor hits your mouth with a kabang! This recipe utilizes all zest and no juice for an evident, yet subtle taste that will not overpower the sauce. The meal was served at a birthday dinner, and everyone loved it. There were people going back for seconds and requesting containers to take some home. Don’t get scared when you see a recipe with cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream, parmesan and eggs either. Just take a big bite. You’ll forget all about the calories.
Lemon Parmesan Chicken and Penne – Serves 12
4 pounds chicken breast, butterflied and flattened to 1/2″
2 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
3 eggs, whisked
3 cups heavy cream
Zest of 3 lemons
1 1/3 cups parmesan cheese, freshly grated
3 pounds penne pasta, cooked
1. Season the chicken with the garlic powder, dried basil and a 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt. Drizzle a bit of olive oil into a deep, wide pan over medium high. Once hot, brown both sides of all the chicken breasts, approximately 30 seconds per side, and lay the meat on a baking sheet. Add more olive oil to the pan if necessary to prevent sticking. Slide into a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
2. In the same pan used to cook the chicken, add the butter and melt completely until it begins to sizzles. Drop in the shallot and garlic, tossing to coat. Cook the shallot and garlic for 1-2 minutes before stirring in the flour. Stir constantly to form a buttery paste, cooking for another 2-3 minutes until a toasty brown roux forms.
3. Mix the cream cheese into the buttery flour, then stir in the sour cream until smooth. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Scoop about 1/4 cup of this mixture into the whisked eggs and combine them very well, then pour the eggy liquid back into the large pan of sauce. Keep stirring.
4. Next, add the heavy cream and reduce the heat to medium low, continuously stirring all the while. Cook the sauce for another 3-4 minutes without allowing it to come to a boil. If it begins to bubble, reduce the heat slightly.
5. Finally, sprinkle the lemon zest and parmesan into the sauce. Cook another 6-8 minutes, reducing the heat again if necessary.
6. While the sauce continues to thicken, slice the chicken breasts into thin strips and drop them into the sauce. Once all of the chicken is in the pan, remove from heat. Pour everything over the cooked penne and toss well to coat. Serve immediately.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.