Invest in a little self-care this Saturday with a bowl of chicken gravy and crisp Brussels sprouts pasta
Forget the sourdough-baking addiction of early 2020, Elizabeth Hewson is reviving the ancient art of pasta making as the must-try stuck-at-home leisure pursuit to get us through this bizarre new reality. Combining self-care ritual with hunger-busting necessity, the foodie found that the slow act of crafting pasta by hand could serve as a form of therapy and keep her anxiety at bay during difficult times. As this year continues to throw challenges our way, many may find similar consolation from preparing their own bowl of comforting carbs. Pop on a soothing playlist and stir up this soul-cuddling pasta sauce of chicken gravy and crisp Brussels sprouts from Elizabeth’s forthcoming cookbook, Saturday Night Pasta. Elizabeth has put her own spin on this Italian favourite, describing it as “the dish that gives me a hug when the world does not”. If you want to take your culinary therapy a step further, pre-order Elizabeth’s book (out October 27) for a step-by-step guide on how to make fresh pasta.
500 g chicken thighs, skin on and bone in (roughly 4 thighs)
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, skin on, lightly smashed with the side of a knife
1 rosemary sprig
85 ml dry white wine
125 ml (1/2 cup) good-quality chicken stoc
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
handful of Brussels sprouts (or use 4 large cavolo nero or kale leaves)
2 teaspoons plain flour
handful of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus extra to serve
Fresh pasta for 4…
or dried pasta for 4
rigatoni, penne, conchiglie (shells)
Preheat the oven to 200°C fan-forced. Remove the bones from the chicken and chop the meat into 3-cm cubes. Heat half the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan with a lid over medium–high heat.
When the butter has melted, add the garlic and rosemary, and swirl them around in the pan for 30 seconds. Add the chicken, along with the bones, and cook for 10–15 minutes or until starting to brown and the fat renders out.
Add the wine and let it bubble away for about 2 minutes or until you can stop smelling the booze. Add the chicken stock and use a wooden spoon to scrape the sticky chickeny bits off the base of the pan. Season with salt and pepper, then put the lid on, reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove the ends from the sprouts so you can pull the leaves apart. Place the leaves on a baking tray, toss through the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt. Spread the leaves so they have plenty of room to crisp up (they’ll go soggy if they are bunched together). Bake for 15–20 minutes, until slightly burnt and crisp. Remove from the oven and set aside. Do not cover as they’ll lose their crispness.
If you are using cavolo nero or kale, tear up the leaves, coat in olive oil and bake for 5–10 minutes, until crisp and golden. Remove the chicken, bones, garlic and rosemary from the pan. Set the chicken aside for something else and discard the bones, garlic and rosemary. You should be left with some lovely juices in the pan. Whisk in the remaining butter and the flour and cook for 1–2 minutes, until starting to thicken. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm while you cook your pasta.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a lively boil and season as salty as the sea. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and add the pasta directly to your gravy sauce. Add the Parmigiano Reggiano and give everything a toss. Divide the pasta among bowls and serve with the crisp brussels sprout leaves (or cavolo nero or kale leaves) and extra cheese scattered over the top.
This is an edited extract from Saturday Night Pasta by Elizabeth Hewson. Published by Plum. Photographer: © Nikki To.
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