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Super Simple Chicken Scampi Recipe

After years of threatening to take her place in the kitchen, my partner has started to learn to cook in earnest. Does she consult the archive of expertly written, accessible, and delightfully witty recipes on the Life & Style blog?

No. No, she does not.

In all honesty, I'm not in the least offended. Learning to cook can be daunting, and not every home cook is geared up to make pasta from scratch and have a go at cooking ravioles de Dauphiné. Some of us just came here to learn how to scramble an egg.

In any case, she made a chicken scampi dish for dinner a few weeks ago, and I was very impressed. Here's my spin on a super simple chicken scampi dish, ideal for sharing with wine drinkers.

What you'll need from the shops

  • A long pasta like spaghetti or linguine

  • Mini chicken fillets (or full-size skinless chicken breasts that you can cut up at home)

  • Flour

  • A pre-prepared Italian spice rub — we've tried the Woolworths and the NOMU brands, and both are delicious

  • Butter

  • Olive oil

  • Two cloves of garlic, grated

  • Fresh parsley

  • Parmesan for topping

  • White wine — I opted for this lovely 2022 Babylonstoren Chenin Blanc. Resist the urge to cook with plonk, as it affects the flavour of the dish and you'll have to drink most of the bottle anyway

How to make a super simple chicken scampi dish

Step One: Prepare the pasta

You know the drill. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and toss in your pasta. Let that cook while you prepare the other elements. Reserve some pasta water when the pasta is cooked!

Step Two: Prepare the seasoning

First, make a seasoned rub out of approximately 60ml of plain flour and 40ml of Italian spice rub. If the spice mix you're using is not salted (taste to test), toss in a pinch of salt.

Here is a picture of my enamel flour tin for general admiration. Below is a picture of the prepared flour and spice rub to give an idea of the composition — don't forget to mix this thoroughly.

Step Three: Prepare the chicken

Next, toss your miniature chicken breast fillets into the seasoned flour mixture and coat evenly. Set the coated chicken aside in a bowl, ready to fry.

In a large pan, heat a knob of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. When that's hot, place the floured chicken fillets and cook until golden brown. Don't cook them all the way through, just remove and put them to the side when the sides are lightly browned.

Step Four: Prepare the sauce

In the same pan, heat a much larger knob of butter — about 40g, measure with your heart — and toss in your grated garlic. I'd aim for the lower side of medium heat here, or else the garlic may burn.

When that becomes fragrant, deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine. Start with a little and taste as you go. When the sauce has reduced slightly, add a very gentle squeeze of lemon, some parsley leaves, and salt to taste. Ladle a few tablespoons of pasta water into the mix to loosen and then emulsify the sauce and prevent the garlic from burning.

Don't leave the sauce alone until you're happy with how it tastes!

Step Five: Reintroduce the chicken

When you're satisfied with the taste and consistency of your pan sauce, reunite the fried chicken with the pan. Cook gently in the sauce until the meat is cooked through.

Step Six: Assemble

Toss your drained pasta into the pan and mix. Give it a taste to see if it's missing any seasoning. When you're happy with that, mix through some freshly chopped parsley, plate the pasta, and top with parmesan cheese.

Pour a well-earned glass of chilled Chenin and enjoy this classic dish with friends. Where else is the wine going to go? ;)

Lots of love,

The Life & Style team


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