Ma’s Chicken Scampi
It’s my husband’s birthday on November 20th, and ever since we’ve moved in together 6 and a half years ago, I’ve made this dish for him every birthday. This recipe is called Ma’s because it’s my mom’s recipe. I always loved when she made it, and I’m so grateful to have seen the women in my life duplicate it so I can have it etched in my memory forever.
I have a love-hate relationship with this one, because it tastes so damn delicious, but it takes forever to prepare. Sure, I can go the easy route and just bread cutlets and cut them up afterwards, but where’s the fun in that? The term “Scampi” actually refers to tiny shrimp from the seas, but nowadays, the term Scampi refers to the style of cooking: a light fry in a shallow pan in oil until golden. Traditionally, this dish is made with garlic, butter, and white wine, with a pinch of parmesan and cream. I leave out some ingredients and stick with the big guys: garlic and crap-ton (yep, it’s a word) of buttah!
Let me start by saying the trick with this dish is pacing – you have to be cognizant about timing the chicken and the pasta water, and how long the pasta cooks so it all finishes at roughly the same time. I start out by taking 3 meaty chicken breasts and slicing them into “nugget” form. I dip the chicken nuggets into the beaten egg, then into breadcrumbs (no skimping out on the carbs here), and set aside. Olive oil is the choice of fats for frying the chicken, but start out with a small amount, just enough to coat the bottom (the oil with sputter if it’s not evenly distributed).
Fry a few pieces at a time and, this is important, be quick with the chicken. They’re small pieces so they’ll burn fast. Each piece takes about 2m per side. As the second batch of chicken cooks, I turned the pasta water on to boil. This dish is always best with fresh pasta, which we’re grateful for at our little Italian market that opened up the block. The water boils, add in salt, and dump in the pasta (we used Rigatoni). Continue to fry the chicken and set aside on a paper-towel-lined plate.
Once all the chicken is done, take the garlic (3 cloves roughly chopped) and add to the pan with 3 (yes THREE) tablespoons of butter to melt. I really feel like garlic and butter are the perfect combination for any recipe, especially as a sauce. This dish calls for a lot of oils and butters, which thankfully is part of my diet on the regular, so no difference to me. Mix around with a spoon and scrape the bottom of the pan to get the remnants of the chicken mixed in as well. *Wipes drool from mouth*. Throw in the chicken to mix around in the butter-garlic sauce, strain the pasta (about 9-10m until al dente), then add the pasta directly to the sauce/chicken. Stir together until all noodles are coated. If you need more butter, DO IT.
Serve immediately with garlic bread, some roasted veggies, and top with a dollop of ricotta. Buon Appetito!
Ma’s Chicken Scampi
- 1.5 lbs Chicken breast or 3-4 breasts
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- 1 pkg (16 oz) pasta fresh is better!
- 2 eggs beaten
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 cloves garlic rough chopped
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
In a large pan or skillet, drizzle the olive oil into the pan to coat the bottom.
Clean the chicken breasts, trim of excess fat, and slice into “nugget” style. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Pour breadcrumbs onto a plate and crack and beat the eggs in a separate bowl.
Create your assembly line: (left to right)
Chicken – Egg – Breadcrumbs.
Dip the chicken into the egg and then into breadcrumbs, coating both sides well. Put breaded chicken nuggets on a separate plate. Repeat until all chicken is breaded.
Turn stove on for the pan with oil to medium. Place 6-7 pieces of chicken in the oil at a time, monitoring the chicken as it cooks. Chicken will cook quickly; turn chicken pieces over when sides are lightly brown (about 2m). repeat for all chicken and set aside on paper towel/plate.
Meanwhile, take a large pot and fill with water. Place on stove. Turn flame onto high to boil water. Add salt pasta to boiled water and cook for time described on package (9-10m). Drain pasta and set aside.
Take chopped garlic and 3 tbsp of butter and add to pan that chicken cooked in. Heat on medium-low flame and melt butter, sautéing the garlic. Add chicken back into garlic-butter sauce and stir. Add in pasta and stir to coat all noodles. Serve immediately.
We used fresh ricotta to add to the pasta on top, if this fits your fancy, feel free to do so!