So, this dish has noodles…made from chicken.
I know, I know. I didn't believe it either, even when Mom showed me a link to Rocco DiSpirito creating this Pasta al Pomodoro on the Rachel Ray show.
I knew we had to try this. I mean, noodles made out of chicken? No carb noodles? From…chicken?
This had to be tried.
The recipe calls for mixing ice cubes and egg white powder in a blender, then adding chicken, processing, and putting it into a squeeze bottle to squirt into no-longer-boiling water.
We happened to have some egg white powder in the cabinet (Mom has it for decorating cakes), but you can find it at a lot of larger grocery stores, some hobby stores in the cake decorating supply section and cake decorating specialty stores.
We fudged a bit on the sauce recipe- more about that below- but followed the recipe to the letter with the 'noodles'.
And we ended up with a mess.
Starting with the egg white powder and ice, it seemed promising…
The eggwhites and ice are put into the blender and blended on low speed until the egg whites are dissolved.
We measured out the chicken breast…gosh, 6 ounces doesn't look like much, does it?
The video mentions using frozen chicken breast, but we ended up with a gummy, gluey mess when we mixed the frozen chicken it in with the egg white powder and ice (the written recipe calls for using 'cold' chicken, not frozen). Our blender is a little weaker than the Vitamix or whatever Rachel Ray has, even though it's a good one, but it just couldn't make it all work.
It was all clumpy and separated out, and we knew it wouldn't work right. We ended up having to move the mix to a bowl, clean out the blender by taking it totally apart (it was seriously gummed up), letting the frozen chicken thaw some and then trying it in the blender again.
The mix definitely looked better after blending the second time once the chicken had thawed a bit, more of (what we assumed was) the proper consistency. Putting it into the squeeze bottle required a funnel and some tapping (and using a skewer now and then) to shake it in. But when we used the squeeze bottle to add the mixture to the just-this-side-of-boiling water….
What you see in that pic is chicken-y glop that fell apart the minute it hit the water.
We decided we needed to add more chicken, so we ended up doubling the amount of chicken and adding a liquid egg white (not the powdered kind).
This time, the consistency was much thicker.
It doesn't seem like very much, in the squirt bottle, but a little goes a long way.
This time, when it got added to the water…
Holy sh!tballs, it worked.
OMGWTF it worked.
It only takes about 30 seconds to cook- they hold together really well- and then you scoop them out. They are going to look funky.
The noodles don't have any flavor, and the texture is actually pretty good. Different, but good.
We fiddled with sauce as we were making the noodles; the noodles were taking so much of our attention that we didn't have the time to slice the garlic and sautee it and broil it, so we opted for a rough mince.
Since no fresh basil was to be had, we turned to the spice cabinet for the dried stuff. We also fudged and the cardboard tube-type parmesan cheese rather than fresh-grated.
Clearly we were not prepared to cook according to the recipe, but even with all our substitutions, it still turned out so good (though the fresh/real stuff would have put it over the top!)
After tasting, we decided the dish needed a hit of good quality olive oil right before serving, which really tied all the flavors together, and added a bit of fat and some more fresh pepper.
We made another double batch of noodles, this time skipping the ice since we had the frozen chicken. We also used a little less egg white powder and a few more liquid egg whites (the kind you can buy in a carton) until we had a good consistency.
Our squeeze bottle was from the dollar store, and good thing, since we had to cut off the tip to allow some of the thicker bits of chicken that didn't break down in the blender to pass through (and what didn't pass through we were able to poke back with a wooden skewer). I strongly recommend trimming any visible fat from the meat before you use it; the little bit of fat that wouldn't separate from the muscle is what wouldn't break down in the blender and clogged the nozzle of the squirt bottle.
The blender worked well, but we figure the food processor will do an equally good job next time. Now, the 'noodles' can't be cooked in the boiling water (they break up into mush), so you have to boil the water, then add the noodles when it's no longer boiling but still hot, then bring it up to boiling again before the next batch. We have a flat-topped electric stove ( I seriously miss my gas range!), and found that it was easier to move the pot of boiling water over to a burner that was off rather than keep pushing the buttons to turn the burner on, select the temperature to keep it boiling, turn it off, turn it on to set it to low. That was just too much for me.
The final verdict is that this is a delicious dish (even cold the next day!), totally paleo, aside from the cooking method, and low-carb. I plan on trying a few different sauces and adding more veggies the next time. It's a little bit of work the first time around- definitely not for a rushed night of trying to get food on the table, despite what the original recipe says- but the novelty of it makes it worth it. You definitely want to get everything ready before you start cooking- making the noodle mixture, bringing the water to boil, having the tomatoes and garlic ready. It comes together fast, and you could easily make the noodles first, keep them warm while you make the sauce.
Pasta al Pomodoro
(original recipe- 4 servings)
3/4 cup ice
3 tablespoons egg white powder
6 ounces cold chicken breast, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
7 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 pinch red chili flakes (these don't add noticeable heat, fyi!)
2 cups whole fresh ready to burst ripe tomatoes, cut into large dice
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
16 leaves of fresh basil, torn by hand into small pieces
Boil 4 quarts of water in a large pot.
Once the water is boiling add 2 tablespoons of salt.
Place the ice and the egg white powder in the beaker of a blender, and blend on low speed until all the powder has dissolved, then add the chicken breast and blend on high speed until smooth and glossy.
Place the contents of the blender into a squeeze bottle and set in the refrigerator.
Pour the olive oil into a large nonstick sauté pan and then lay out the garlic slices in one even layer over the top of the pan.
Place the pan over medium to high heat and cook the garlic until it begins to brown, then move the pan to the middle rack of the oven under the broiler to continue to brown the top of the garlic, about 1 minute.
Place the pan back on the stove and add red chili flakes and half the basil leaves, cook for 15 seconds and then add the tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes over medium heat until the sauce comes to a simmer and let cook until the sauce has slightly thickened but still loose, about 2 minutes.
Add half of the cheese and stir it completely into the sauce and turn off the stove and season lightly with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Turn the boiling water down to low heat and squeeze the chicken mixture out of the squeeze bottle in a steady stream into the boiling water into strands the same length as spaghetti, about 10 inches until there is no more room on the surface of the water.
Let the noodles cook for 30 seconds then remove them with a strainer or spider, set them aside in a bowl and repeat until all of the chicken mixture is used.
Add the noodles to the pan and turn the heat to medium high heat.
Toss the pasta to coat evenly with a heat resistant rubber spatula and cook until the sauce begins to cling to the noodles.
Add the remaining basil and check seasoning.
Plate the pasta on four separate plates and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
133 calories, 6.17g fat (2g sat, 3g mono, 1g poly), 6.25mg cholesterol, 114.75mg sodium, 4.575g carbohydrates, 1.1g fiber, 13.05g protein