My extended family loves getting together on a weekly basis to have a late lunch or nice dinner. It is not uncommon on some weekends where we are bouncing between a house on Friday night for dinner, then over to another house on Saturday or Sunday. It is a nice thing, and very comforting. It is the pinoy way, where the family get together is important, meaningful, and last for hours.
Upon our last get together, I was approached with the idea of preparing the meal. I was super excited, granted I find myself roaming in the kitchen, regardless of which house I am at, asking if I can help assist the main chef. My in-laws really enjoyed the day I prepared for them at Christmas time, and asked the big question; ‘Will you prepare dinner for us, and 12 others?’. My initial reaction, was ‘Heck yeah’, but then as I thought about it, 14 people, many dishes cooked, and served on time. I was pumped with the challenge.
I worked with the family on the menu, and they really loved my shrimp and cranberry rangoons and lumpia so that was a no brainer, and a perfect appetizer. I threw in shrimp mixed grill guesadilla along with a corn and black bean salsa and guacamole. Next came the entrees. My mother-n-law really loved a lasagna that I made with homemade sauce and fresh ground meat, and then she said, ‘I would really love that chicken and broccoli pasta’. I remember the flavors of a dish that was once ordered, and as simple as it was, it was really delicious, so I thought I would recreate it based on that experience. Oh yeah, and I through in some Thai beef skewers.
I prepared as much as I possibly could the day before. Slow cooking the meat sauce for the lasagna and cooking the onion reduction for the rangoons. I had it going on, and I was really motivated, and then my wife said ‘let’s go to my parents house early, at 11:00 a.m.’. I did not expect to get there until 3pm, as I was really comfortable working in my kitchen. A curve ball. I took it, and we loaded up the van and headed out. Bag after bag, cutting boards, a hot pot of sauce, everything was in place.
I remained calm and cool, watching the clock. As I began to realize I was running out of time, I had to dispatch my wife, and inlaws and train them on how to wrap the 50 eggrolls. They were done in no time. Then came the rangoons. My wife quickly tackled those as my mother-n-law watched the fryers for the eggrolls. I was preparing the lasagna, chicken and broccolli, skewers. The guests arrived at 4:00 p.m sharp, and it was game on. The appetizers were quickly consumed, and they hung out in the kitchen, watching me slice and dice, preparing the main courses. Enough said. It was a successful night and a great learning experience, and was so glad that I had a team that I could count on.
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half, horizontally
- 1 box of orecchiette pasta
- 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
- 1 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp each of dried basil, rosemary
- 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- pinch of red chili flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil
- large bowl of ice water
Begin by drizzling olive oil on the sliced chicken fillets and season with some salt and pepper. Place them on a baking sheet in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until cooked. In the meantime, bring two pots of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, about 12-14 minutes. In the second pot, add the florets, and cook for about 4-5 minutes. Once the broccoli is cooked, strain and place in the large bowl of ice water. This prevents the broccoli from cooking and maintains the vibrant green color that it should be.
To your sauce pan, add in the heavy whipping cream, and cook on medium-high heat until it begins to thicken. Toss in the garlic, parmesan cheese, basil, rosemary, and chili flakes. Continue to whisk to prevent the cream from burning, and allowing it to thicken.
Drain your pasta and add to your serving bowl. Remove the chicken from the oven, and cut into quarters. Add the sauce to the mix, and give a nice stir, mixing all of the cream sauce with the pasta and chicken. Top with the brocoli florets and you are good to go. Enjoy.