COOKING 101

A classic shrimp dish with a twist

Updated: 2013-04-03T00:34:08Z

The first time Kevin Battles tasted Shrimp Alfredo, he wasn’t impressed.

The student chef at Johnson County Community College thought it was, well, bland.

“I said, ‘You know what this needs? It needs some Italian sausage and some chicken and a little more flavor,’” Battles recalled.

So he set about spicing up the dish. The version here adds four cloves of garlic and chicken in what Battles calls the best of all worlds.

When he adds sausage, he chooses sweet Italian sausage. Sometimes he makes the sausage himself, but he advises home cooks to try Italian sausages until they find a brand they like, and then add that to the alfredo dish.

Battles prefers using homemade noodles for this dish.

A pasta machine makes forming the noodles a snap, but Battles said it’s also possible to use a rolling pin to roll the dough very, very thin.

With fresh pasta, keeping an eye on cooking time is paramount since the fresh product cooks faster than dried, and overcooking can be a problem. He says cook just to al dente — which would take just a few minutes — and then cool it right away.

“Do the pasta last, right before you’re ready to serve the dish,” Battles advises.

It’s a great dinner choice any time, he says, and switching the ingredients means it never comes out the same way twice.

“My family loves it.”

Crazy Pasta With Chicken and Shrimp

Makes 4 to 6 servings

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Salt and pepper to taste

1 (16-ounce) bottle Italian-style salad dressing

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

15 to 20 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped green bell pepper

1 pint half-and-half

1 bunch parsley, chopped

Salt to taste

5 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Place chicken breasts in a nonporous glass dish or bowl. Poke several holes in breasts with a fork; season with salt and pepper to taste, and cover with salad dressing. Toss to coat, cover dish and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Combine flour, eggs and salt in a large bowl. Add water as needed to make a soft dough. Knead dough on a floured surface for 3 to 4 minutes until dough becomes stiff. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Remove dough from refrigerator, pat flat. Feed flattened dough through a pasta machine until it reaches fettucine thickness. Slice dough into 1/4 -inch strips. Set aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp, garlic, red pepper and green pepper; sauté about 1 minute. Add half-and-half; stir. Add parsley and salt, stir. Add Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly. After all Parmesan is added, stir frequently until sauce thickens, making sure sauce does not boil.

While sauce is cooking, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding any remaining marinade, and sauté in skillet for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through and juices run clear. Slice into medallions.

While sautéing the chicken, heat water to boiling in a large pot. Add pasta; cook for a minute or two until al dente.

To serve, combine sauce with cooked pasta; top with chicken medallions and serve family style.

Per serving, based on 4: 1,302 calories (57 percent from fat), 81 grams total fat (29 grams saturated), 448 milligrams cholesterol, 62 grams carbohydrates, 78 grams protein, 1,865 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

Recipe and food styling by Kevin Battles, 29, a sixth-semester student in the Johnson County Community College hospitality management program. He is an apprentice at Lake Quivira Country Club. Cooking 101 is a bimonthly column exclusive to The Star designed to introduce home cooks to basic cooking techniques. The recipe, food styling and photography are a joint project between culinary students and instructors at Johnson County Community College’s Hospitality Management Program.

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