One’s favorite comfort food, be it a slice of rich chocolate cake or a cheesy piece of pizza, or a plate of good old ‘rice, curd and thoran’ like ShanaEats said, is something truly satisfying. For me, the ultimate comfort food is good old pasta in white sauce. Specifically, I turn to a bowl of warm pasta tossed in rich Béchamel sauce with flavorful pieces of chicken and potatoes with crisp edges to bite into. The best part is that I’ve made it numerous ways (once I made this dish sans chicken at 2.30 in the morning and it was the best version I’ve made so far) and it has managed to satisfy my crazy craving every time.
While this is far from a traditional recipe, this is less Indianised than most that we make at home (not that they are any less yum. Let me know if you’d like me to feature my umma’s signature beef macaroni recipe on the blog someday). I am not really one for keeping measurements while cooking, I am more of a “let my nose and intuition lead the way” kind of gal in the kitchen, so some of the measurements maybe off, but I always believe in going with your gut when it comes to cooking. So proceed at your own discretion.
(Makes for 10 servings, so cut down depending on how many you are making for)
2 Whole Chicken Breasts
1 head of garlic
Half a slice of lemon
150 gm unsalted butter
5 small/medium potato
Half a cup of white flour
1 cup of whole milk
100 gm pizza cheese
500 gm of pasta (used fusili in this case)
Clean and butterfly chicken breasts to reduce it’s thickness and make it easier to get fully cooked (which I didn’t do initially and then had to go in and cut the breasts up to make it cook through, so learn from my mistakes!). Season the chicken with salt and leave be. In a non stick pan, drop in 50 gm of butter and add in 3-4 cloves of chopped up garlic. Place chicken breasts in, drizzle with juice of half a lemon and leave it to cook through. Wait until the chicken is gold and crackling on the outside and the meat inside is still succulent, but not rubbery (I usually check it by going in with a fork and knife and slicing into thickest portion). Once it is cooked, it can be chopped up into smaller pieces.
(I think the chicken breast that is cooked this way can even serve as the main course, when served with some roasted vegetables or even mashed potatoes).
Add enough water for the pasta and keep it on the stove. Add in some oil to ensure pasta doesn’t stick and add some salt and a bruised garlic clove. Once the water heats up, the pasta can be added and allowed to cook till it becomes Al Dente. The pasta should not be drained completely, but left with some of the cooking water.
Once the pasta is on the stove, wash, peel and chop potatoes in to small thin cubes and toss with salt and keep aside. Remove any leftovers in the butter used for the chicken. Once the butter is hot enough, drop in the potatoes so that it forms an even layer. This is done in order to ensure that the pieces get some crispiness around the edges. Remove the potatoes and keep aside with the cooked chicken.
The Béchamel sauce:
Now the sauce is actually a little bit of a sticky business (Ha! See what I did there? 😛 ). After adding the remaining butter into the pan, add some 2 cloves of garlic for it’s flavor and then add in the flour that has been mixed with water.
While the usual recommendation is to add the flour to the butter, let it get browned and then add milk, I chose to mix with water since my first trail caused a lot of lumpiness in the sauce. After adding the flour, adding in the milk while whisking the mixture. Add salt to taste. Once the sauce is at a consistency that is a little more liquid than your preference, add in the cheese and stir till it gets dissolved.
The final reveal:
The last step is to put everything together, of course – To the sauce, add the chicken and potatoes and mix thoroughly. Finally lift the pasta from the water and add in to the mixture. A little bit of water from the pasta dripping into the sauce is necessary. Toss the whole thing together and voila! Serve with a side of ground black pepper and/or lemon juice for those who need a little more heat or tanginess to their dish.
Now, What is your ultimate comfort food?
This is my first time posting a recipe on the blog,so do let me know if you try this recipe out or if you make a different variation of the same recipe, or use a different technique for a similar dish. Don’t forget to tag me on social media @babblequeendiaries on your comfort food posts!